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9 Local Services

Main Findings

In 2016, 56 per cent of adults were satisfied with three public services: local health services, schools and public transport.

Satisfaction with the three public services is at its lowest level since first measured in

2007, and down from a peak of 66 per cent in 2011.

Satisfaction with the three public services among service users is generally higher than

that of the whole adult population, and is more stable over time.

Adults living in urban areas were more satisfied with the quality of the three public

services than those in small towns and rural areas – mainly due to greater satisfaction with public transport.

In 2016, 23 per cent of adults agreed that they can influence decisions affecting their

local area. Just over a third (34 per cent) said they would like to be more involved in the decisions their council makes.

Generally, older adults were more likely than younger adults to say they are satisfied with local government performance and less likely to want to be more involved in

making decisions. Forty-two per cent of 25-34 year olds said they would like to have greater involvement with decisions affecting their local area (compared to 28 per cent for 60-74 year olds, and 14 per cent for those aged 75 plus).

Adults living in the most deprived areas were less likely to agree that they can influence decisions in their local area (21 per cent in the most deprived areas, compared to 27

per cent in the least deprived areas) and less likely to want to be more involved in local decision making, (29 per cent in the most deprived areas, compared to 38 per cent in

the least deprived areas).

9.1 Introduction and Context

High quality public services which work together and with Scotland’s communities are essential to support a fair, prosperous and inclusive society. The Scottish Government’s approach to public service delivery seeks to place people and communities at the centre of what we do. In particular, it is an approach designed to target the causes rather than the consequences of inequalities; and to make sure that our public services are sustainable. Scotland's 32 local authorities work closely with other organisations (in a range of partnerships, including Community Planning Partnerships) to plan and deliver a wide range of services that improve the lives of people living in their areas.

As part of the National Performance Framework ( NPF), which is supported by local councils, one of the Scottish Government's national outcomes is that 'our public services are high quality, continually improving, efficient and responsive to local people’s needs'. There are also two National Indicators relating to public services: improve people's perceptions of the quality of public services (National Indicator 33) and improve the responsiveness of public services (National Indicator 34). Progress on these two indicators is monitored using data from the Scottish Household Survey ( SHS). Many local authorities also use the SHS to assess progress towards their Single Outcome Agreements (a statement of the outcomes that they want to see for their local area). Under the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, community planning is about how public bodies work together and with the local community to plan for, resource and provide or secure the provision of services which improve local outcomes in a local authority area, with a view to reducing inequalities. Each CPP must produce a Local Outcomes Improvement Plan which is collaboratively agreed and signed off by 1 October 2017, and these Local Outcome Improvement Plans supersede Single Outcome Agreements.

This chapter begins by exploring satisfaction with the quality of local services and attitudes to involvement in local decision-making. It then reports respondents' views on local authority performance. Breakdowns by urban rural classification and SIMD are provided.

9.2 Local Service Quality

  • Just over half of adults in Scotland were satisfied with public services in 2016. This is the lowest level since first measured in 2007.
  • Satisfaction levels rose from 2007 and peaked in 2011. Satisfaction has steadily fallen since then due to increasing numbers of adults being ambivalent about schools. The number of people who are very or fairly dissatisfied with local schools has remained stable throughout this period.
  • Adults tend to be most satisfied with local health services.

The Scottish Government's National Indicator to 'improve people's perceptions of the quality of public services' is measured by the percentage of adults who say they are (very or fairly) satisfied with three public services: local health services, schools and public transport. In 2016, the percentage of adults who said they were very or fairly satisfied with these services was roughly stable once taking account of statistical significance compared to 2015 at 56 per cent, but has decreased from 66 per cent in 2011 ( Table 9.1).

Looking at the services individually, adults tend to be most satisfied with local health services, followed by local schools and public transport. In 2016, 83 per cent of adults were satisfied with local health services, compared to 73 per cent who were satisfied with schools and 72 per cent with public transport. Satisfaction with schools has fallen over the last five years, from a high of 85 per cent in 2011 to the current level of 73 per cent, and this is the biggest factor in the corresponding trend in the combined indicator over this period.

Table 9.1: Percentage of people very or fairly satisfied with the quality of public services delivered (local health services, local schools and public transport) by year
Percentages, 2007-2016 data

Adults 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Local health services 81 85 86 86 88 87 85 86 83 83
Local Schools 79 81 83 83 85 83 81 79 74 73
Public Transport 69 73 75 74 76 72 71 75 74 72
% satisfied with all three services* 57.1 61.8 64.9 64.0 66.0 63.0 59.9 61.9 57.5 56.1
Base (minimum) 6,270 5,500 5,470 5,000 5,510 5,340 5,700 5,720 5,790 6,130

* Percentages reported for all three services combined are those for which an opinion was given.

Respondents could express no opinion for up to two of the services. While the base minimum has been quoted here (for the three main services) the base size for the composite “satisfaction with all three services” is for the whole adult sample 9,640.

Figure 9.1: Percentage of people very or fairly satisfied with the quality of public services delivered (local health services, local schools and public transport) by year
2007 - 2016 data, Adults (min base: 5,000)

Figure 9.1: Percentage of people very or fairly satisfied with the quality of public services delivered (local health services, local schools and public transport) by year

Table 9.2 provides a more detailed breakdown of satisfaction levels with each of the three public services. While the number very or fairly satisfied with local schools has fallen from 85 to 73 per cent since 2011, this is almost entirely due to a corresponding increase from 11 to 22 per cent in the number of people who are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. The number of people who are very of fairly dissatisfied with local schools has remained stable throughout this period.

Table 9.2: Percentage of people very or fairly satisfied with the quality of public services delivered (local health services, local schools and public transport) by year
Percentages, 2007-2016 data

Adults 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Local health services
Very or fairly satisfied 81 85 86 86 88 87 85 86 83 83
Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied 7 6 5 5 4 5 6 5 6 6
Very or fairly dissatisfied 12 10 9 9 8 9 10 9 11 11
Local Schools
Very or fairly satisfied 79 81 83 83 85 83 81 79 74 73
Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied 17 14 12 12 11 13 15 18 22 22
Very or fairly dissatisfied 4 5 5 5 4 3 4 3 4 5
Public Transport
Very or fairly satisfied 69 73 75 74 76 72 71 75 74 72
Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied 14 12 11 12 10 14 12 13 12 15
Very or fairly dissatisfied 17 15 14 14 14 14 17 11 14 13
Base (minimum) 6,270 5,500 5,470 5,000 5,510 5,340 5,700 5,720 5,790 6,130

People’s perceptions of public services by urban rural classification

  • People in urban areas were more satisfied with the quality of public services overall than those in rural areas.

Table 9.3 shows the differences in people’s perceptions of public services by urban rural classification. It can be seen that, overall, adults living in urban areas and accessible small towns were more satisfied with the quality of public services than those in remote small towns and rural areas. However, when we look at the individual services separately, it can be seen that it is the satisfaction with public transport in remote and rural areas that is mainly responsible for these overall results. Satisfaction with public transport in large urban areas was 80 per cent, compared to only 49 per cent in remote rural areas, whereas remote rural areas had higher levels of satisfaction with local schools (78 per cent compared to 67 per cent in large urban areas).

Table 9.3: Percentage of people very or fairly satisfied with the quality of public services delivered (local health services, local schools and public transport) by urban rural classification
Percentages, 2016 data

Adults Large urban areas Other urban areas Accessible
small towns
Remote small towns Accessible rural Remote rural All
Local health services 84 82 82 80 82 83 83
Local Schools 67 76 82 79 73 78 73
Public Transport 80 73 69 66 57 49 72
% satisfied with all three services* 60.1 56.6 56.8 52.7 47.7 46.0 56.1
Base (minimum) 1,680 2,060 570 420 690 720 6,130

* Percentages reported for all three services combined are those for which an opinion was given. Respondents could express no opinion for up to two of the services. While the base minimum has been quoted here (for the three main services) the base size for the composite “satisfaction with all three services” is for the whole adult sample 9,640.

People’s perceptions of public services by level of deprivation

  • Overall satisfaction with the quality of public services is broadly similar across all levels of deprivation.

Table 9.4 shows the differences in people’s perceptions of public services by level of deprivation, as defined using the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation ( SIMD) and divided into quintiles [59] . Overall satisfaction with the quality of public services is broadly similar across all levels of deprivation, with satisfaction with schools and local health services in particular being very similar across all deprivation levels.

Table 9.4: Percentage of people very or fairly satisfied with the quality of public services delivered (local health services, local schools and public transport) by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation quintiles
Percentages, 2016 data

Adults ← 20% most deprived 20% least deprived→ All
1 2 3 4 5
Local health services 82 81 83 84 85 83
Local Schools 72 73 74 75 73 73
Public Transport 75 73 69 68 74 72
% satisfied with all three services* 56.2 56.1 53.8 56.4 57.9 56.1
Base (minimum) 1,160 1,300 1,360 1,250 1,060 6,130

* Percentages reported for all three services combined are those for which an opinion was given. Respondents could express no opinion for up to two of the services. While the base minimum has been quoted here (for the three main services) the base size for the composite “satisfaction with all three services” is for the whole adult sample 9,640.

Service users

  • Satisfaction levels are higher amongst those who have used the service.

People who have actually used the services i.e. those who travel on public transport, have children in school or have used the health service arguably have a more informed opinion of the service. Currently users of schools and of public transport can be identified.

Table 9.5 shows satisfaction with the 3 public services among service users only. Satisfaction with both schools (88 per cent) and public transport (80 per cent) was higher in 2016 among those who use these services than the corresponding satisfaction level for the whole adult population. Satisfaction of service users is also more stable over time than that of all adults.

Table 9.5: Percentage of service users very or fairly satisfied with the quality of public services delivered (local health services, local schools and public transport) by year [60]
Percentages, 2007-2016 data

Service users 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Local health services n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Local Schools 90 89 88 88 90 92 90 90 90 88
Public Transport 77 80 81 80 82 80 78 82 79 80
Base (minimum) 2,040 1,740 1,880 1,650 1,800 1,750 1,820 1,780 1,690 1,740

9.3 Perceptions of Local Authority Performance and Involvement in Local Decision Making

  • People think their local authority is good at letting people know about the kinds of services it provides (45 per cent) and provides high quality services (45 per cent).
  • Far fewer (just under a quarter) feel they are able to influence decisions in their local area (23 per cent) or that the council is good at listening to local people's views (25 per cent).
  • More adults would like greater involvement in the decisions affecting their local area than those who perceive they can influence them.

The Scottish Government’s approach continues to be informed by the findings of the Christie Commission on the Future Delivery of Public Services in 2011 [61] , providing consistent and clear strategic direction built around the four pillars of reform: partnership; prevention; people and performance. This approach places people and communities at the centre of public service delivery and policy making. Perceptions of local authority performance have been collected.

As well as satisfaction with local services, perceptions of local authority performance in the SHS are measured by asking people to indicate their level of agreement or disagreement with various statements relating to the role of a local council and the perceived quality of communication and services, involvement in decision making, and value for money. These are as follows:

A. My local council provides high quality services
B. My local council does the best it can with the money available
C. My local council is addressing the key issues affecting the quality of life in my local neighbourhood
D. My council is good at listening to local people's views before it takes decisions
E. My local council designs its services around the needs of the people who use them
F. My council is good at letting local people know how well it is performing
G. My local council is good at letting people know about the kindsG. My local council is good at letting people know about the kinds of services it provides
H. I can influence decisions affecting my local area
I. I would like to be more involved in the decisions my council makes that affect my local area

Figure 9.2 shows the percentage of adults who agreed (strongly or slightly) with these statements about different aspects of their local authority's performance. The highest level of agreement was amongst the almost half who said their council is good at letting people know about the kinds of services it provides (45 per cent) and provides high quality services (45 per cent).

The lowest levels of agreement were with statements about being able to influence decisions in their local area (23 per cent) and the council being good at listening to local people's views (25 per cent).

Figure 9.2: Percentage agreeing with various statements about local authority services and performance
2016 data, Adults (base: 9,640)

Figure 9.2: Percentage agreeing with various statements about local authority services and performance

Changes over time

  • Less people want greater involvement in decisions affecting their local area since 2007.
  • More people think that their local council is good at listening since 2007.

The National Performance Framework National Indicator 'Improve the responsiveness of public services' is measured as the percentage of adults in the SHS who agree that they can influence decisions affecting their local area.

In 2016, 23.1 per cent of people agreed that they can influence decisions affecting their local area, as shown in Table 9.6. This is an increase of 3.5 percentage points since 2007, and is unchanged since 2015 when the Community Empowerment Act 2015 came into force.

Table 9.6: Percentage of people who agree with the statement 'I can influence decisions affecting my local area' by year
Percentages, 2007-2016 data

Adults 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
I can influence decisions 19.6 21.7 21.8 21.3 22.4 21.5 22.0 23.0 23.6 23.1
Base (minimum) 10,230 9,250 9,710 9,020 9,660 9,890 9,920 9,800 9,410 9,640

The proportion of adults who agree that they would like greater involvement in the decisions affecting their local area is higher than those who perceive they can influence them. In 2016, 34 per cent of adults said they would like to be more involved in the decisions their council makes that affects their local area, compared to 23 per cent who felt they can influence decisions affecting their local area ( Figure 9.2). In 2016, a quarter (25 per cent) of adults agreed that their council is good at listening to local people’s views before it takes decisions.

Table 9.7 shows how level of agreement with the nine statements has changed over time. The percentage of people who agree that their local council is good at communicating services and good at communicating performance were both relatively stable between 2007 and 2014. However, since then the percentage who say that their local council is good at communicating services has declined (from 49 per cent to 45 per cent), as has the percentage who say that their local council is good at communicating performance (from 41 per cent to 37 per cent).

The percentage of people who want greater involvement in decisions affecting their local area has decreased since 2007 (from 38 per cent in 2007 to 34 per cent in 2016), while the percentage who think that their local council is good at listening has increased over the same period (from 21 per cent to 25 per cent).

Table 9.7: Percentage of people who agree with the statement 'I can influence decisions affecting my local area' by year
Percentages, 2007-2016 data

Adults 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Good at communicating services 47 48 49 48 49 48 48 49 46 45
High quality services 40 42 43 42 44 44 45 47 46 45
Good at communicating performance 42 42 41 41 40 41 40 41 38 37
Services designed for needs 32 34 38 39 39 40 40 41 40 40
Does its best with the money 35 38 36 39 39 40 40 41 41 41
Addressing key issues 33 34 34 34 34 35 36 37 36 36
Good at listening 21 22 23 23 23 25 25 26 25 25
I can influence decisions 20 22 22 21 22 21 22 23 24 23
I want greater involvement in decisions 38 37 36 36 36 33 35 34 34 34
Base (minimum) 10,230 9,250 9,710 9,020 9,660 9,890 9,920 9,800 9,410 9,640

All time series data is produced on a consistent basis. Figures published in the 2007 SHS Annual Report may differ slightly for some question statements

Changes by age

  • Generally, older adults are more likely than younger adults to say they are satisfied with the performance statements about local government services and less likely to want to be more involved in making decisions.

Figure 9.3 shows that there are some differences by age group in agreement with statements about local authority services and performance. Generally, older adults are more likely than younger adults to say they are satisfied with the performance statements about local government services and less likely to want to be more involved in making decisions. Around half of 60 to 74 year olds and those aged 75 years and over agreed with the statement that their council does the best it can with the money available, compared to around one third of 16 to 24 and 25 to 34 year olds.

The strongest desire to participate in local decision-making was shown by those aged 25 to 34, with 42 per cent saying they would like to have greater involvement with decisions affecting their local area (compared to 28 per cent for those aged 60-74, and 14 per cent for those 75 and above). Those aged 75 and above were also least likely to feel that they can influence decisions (18 per cent, compared to 25 per cent for those aged 35-44).

Figure 9.3: Percentage agreeing with various statements about local council services by age
2016 data, Adults (min base: 730)

Figure 9.3: Percentage agreeing with various statements about local council services by age

Deprivation

  • Perceptions of being able to influence decisions and the desire to be involved in decision-making were lower in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived areas.

Figure 9.4 looks at differences in agreement with statements about local authority performance by the level of deprivation of the area, as defined using the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation ( SIMD) and divided into quintiles as above. Levels of agreement with most statements were similar across areas, regardless of deprivation levels.

Perceptions of being able to influence decisions and the desire to be involved in decision-making were lower in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived areas. Adults living in the most deprived areas were less likely to agree that they can influence decisions in their local area (21 per cent in the most deprived areas, compared to 26 per cent in the least deprived areas) and less likely to want to be more involved in local decision making, (29 per cent in the most deprived areas, compared to 38 per cent in the least deprived areas).

Figure 9.4: Percentage agreeing with various statements about local council services by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation ( SIMD)
2016 data, Adults (min base: 1,730)

Figure 9.4: Percentage agreeing with various statements about local council services by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD)

Columns may not add to 100 per cent since multiple responses were allowed.

Conclusion

This chapter has explored satisfaction with the quality of local services and attitudes to involvement in local decision-making. It has reported respondents' views on local authority performance.


Contact

Email: Emma McCallum, emma.mccallum@gov.scot

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG