Some encouraging results from a survey that Wandsworth Council has conducted among 1,500 of its residents into how services are delivered.
67 per cent agreed with the statement: “I don’t care if it is the council or another organisation that carries out local services as long as they are of a good standard.” Only 17 per cent disagreed.
In addition, 84 per cent of people agreed that “keeping council tax low is essential for residents” up from 67 per cent a decade ago. Only six per cent disagreed.
A similar message came from an online survey of residents groups. 48 per cent of respondents supported the notion that the council should market test services “to get the lowest price wherever possible” compared to 34 per cent who were against the idea. 40 per cent also supported the idea of council staff setting up their own self-managed ‘mutual’ organisations to reduce costs, with only 23 per cent against.
Savings being planned by the council include cutting the number of council department from six to four, market testing services like the youth service, some IT services and office support services and supporting employees who wish to set up staff mutuals – allowing them to deliver services at a reduced cost by removing town hall overheads. The number of council owned buildings will be reduced. Fewer committee meetings will held and thus less paper produced.Council leader Cllr Ravi Govindia said:
“Wandsworth has a proven track record of providing the best quality local services of any council in the UK – and for the past 30 years has charged its residents the lowest average council tax bills in the country.
“Every town hall in Britain is having to play its role in reducing the nation’s debt and deficit levels. We will continue to bear down on costs, as we have done successfully for the past three decades to ensure that not only do taxpayers get full value for their money, but that we also protect the frontline services that our residents rely on.
“We will do this by cutting down on back office costs, selling off vacant buildings, market testing our services, reducing the number of high paid managers and looking at intelligent new ways of generating extra income.”
Also encouraging is that the number of Wandsworth residents who have signed up for volunteering with Groundwork charity is now 3,460 – an increase of 1,486 on last year.