Cuts? What cuts?
Some new polling from LGInsight, an association of authorities interested in imporving their communications. It makes for uncomfortable reading for councils. Councils will be most concerned that 13% of UK adults think that the amount of money that their council will receive from government to provide services will go up over the next 12 months. 22% think it will stay the same. Just 54% think that the amount of money will go down.
It also identifies five groups of people and suggests how councils can keep them happy:
Contented (17% of GB adults)
Pride themselves on keeping up-to-date on current issues and making an informed judgment on them. Recognise the current financial pressures but still expects their excellent council to deliver. Councils should maintain core visible universal services, such as street cleaning, for this group. Councils should also give detailed information through council publications about budget choices especially if you think value for money will fall.
Optimists (35% of GB adults)
Characterised by optimism that things will stay the same. Councils should inform this group about services which will be hit by cuts and what you will do to help people affected.
Unconcerned (13% of GB adults)
Really disengaged from the media and keeping up-to-date with current affairs. When they do give an opinion the main view is that service quality, range and value for money will go up and the council will get more money to pay for it. Councils should engage through face-to-face or trusted intermediaries with this group. Councils will have to communicate the tough choices ahead in an engaging manner.
Pessimists (23% of GB adults)
As with the Contented residents they keep up-to-date on issues, but reach a completely different conclusion. They were not great fans of the council in the first place and see little positive about a future where service quality, range and value for money will decline along with money from government, while their council tax goes up. Councils should only reassure this group if they are being too pessimistic. If you can maintain the range, quality and value for money of services they will be hard to convince. Focus in particular on the local newspaper. They would be surprised by a freeze in Council Tax, but may not recognise that fact unless highlighted to them.
Angry (12% of GB adults)
More bothered by the poor service they have received from their council over the years than what is going on at a national level. Likely to think the council is going to get more money from government and council tax, while service quality continues to decline. Councils should focus on improving customer care for this group and inform them that the amount of money from government will fall. Focus in particular on the local newspaper.