Refuse and recycling top public priority for council spending, says UNISON

Refuse and recycling top public priority for council spending, says UNISON

The service people would most like councils to spend money on is rubbish collection and recycling, according to a UNISON/ComRes poll published today (Thursday).

Nearly two in five (39%) say it would be their number one choice if the government were to give their local authority extra cash, followed by pavements (32%) and homecare (30%). Parks (28%) and public toilets (26%) also made it into the top five.

Women are more likely than men to want councils to spend extra money on homecare (34% compared to 27%), and youth centres (25% compared to 20%).

Older adults aged 55 and above are more likely than 18 to 34-year-olds to want additional cash spent on pavements (40% v 21%), homecare (43% v 19%) and public toilets (33% v 18%).

In contrast, younger people are more likely than the over 55s to want any additional funding to go on parks (29% v 19%) and leisure facilities (26% v 17%).

Only a quarter (25%) of 18 to 34-year-olds know their local authority can help if they buy an unsafe item compared with more than half (51%) of respondents aged 55 and above. Just under two in five (38%) people overall know to contact trading standards.

The research has been published to coincide with UNISON’s first Local Service Champions Day, an event to raise awareness of the important contribution local government workers make to their communities.

The findings highlight how public awareness levels of council services is mixed. More than two thirds of adults are aware council staff deal with noise complaints (71%) and refuse collection (69%).

 But fewer than two in five know they deal with lost or stray dogs (37%), while just over half are aware they deal with abandoned cars in the street (53%).

 A similar picture emerges regarding the use of facilities provided by the local authority. The vast majority have visited parks (88%), libraries (86%), local museums or theatres (83%), public toilets (82%) and leisure centres (82%).

 In comparison, less than a third (31%) have sought advice on housing, or used youth centres (28%) or homecare (18%).

 Nearly a quarter (23%) of adults who have used at least one service in the last 24 months believe the quality has decreased. Just one in ten (9%) believe it has improved.

 UNISON head of local government Jon Richards said: “From refuse collection to providing support for loved ones, public service workers keep communities running.

 “They go above and beyond to deliver for the public. This is despite cutbacks meaning they’re working in challenging circumstances with fewer colleagues than before.

 “These awards are a chance to highlight just how much council employees improve people’s lives. They’re a ‘thank you’ to the unsung heroes of our local communities.”