Councils should lead the local battle against climate change, survey says

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The public expects councils to take a leading role in fight against climate change, according to a recent survey by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE).  

1693 UK residents took part in the survey, which measured public attitudes to local neighbourhood services in 2020, covering topics such as response to COVID-19 pandemic and trust in local and national governments in delivering local services.

APSE Chief Executive Paul O’Brien commented on the findings: “Many in local government will be cheered by the high level of trust placed in local councils, delivering the services the public want and need, especially during the pandemic.

“What is also clear is that we have a job to do in convincing government that local investment through councils is not only popular but a sensible route to delivering visible improvements at a community level.

“This means delivering on public priorities in partnership with councils, especially in areas like climate change, where councils can make a real difference in greening local transport, and investing in making homes more energy efficient.”

39 per cent of the respondents saw councils as best placed to implement local steps to combat the effects of climate changewhile 31 per cent viewed central government as the best fit. This was up three per cent from last year. 

The most popular specific local climate action was making homes more energy efficient, with 61 per cent of the respondents supporting it.  

The poll, conducted by Survationalso showed support to other forms of local authorities stepping in to tackle climate emergency as 54 per cent of the respondents would like to see more of their taxes given to their local council to address climate change. 

Key findings of the survey were: 

  • 70 per cent expect that local communities will have to respond to the effects of climate change in their area. 
  • 54 per cent support additional money for councils to respond to climate change locally, down 12 per cent from last year. This has likely have been caused by COVID-19 creating other health and economic priorities.  
  • Climate change is the equal second highest new spending priority after social care and on par with housing and road maintenance. 

The survey also showed the highest trust in councils and councillors since 2016. 54 per cent of the respondents trusted the local council to make decisions about how services are provided in their local area, compared to 12 per cent who entrusted this to the central government.  

Besides this, 56 per cent trusted their local councillors to make decisions about their local area, as opposed to six per cent who trusted government ministers. 55 per cent trusted their councils to provide local services over a private company (11 per cent) or the government (11 per cent.) 

The full report can be found from the APSE website.