Falkirk Council not giving value for money according to survey

Falkirk Council’s first survey looking at how people perceive the council showed less than one-third of people think they get good value for money from it.

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 6:00 am
Falkirk Council logo.

The survey asked around 1000 people whether they agreed with a number of statements about the council and the answers were seldom above 50 per cent.

Falkirk Council is approachable – 49.43 per cent; Falkirk Council is helpful – 51.71 per cent; Falkirk Council cares for the environment – 45.46 per cent; Falkirk Council asks me for my ideas on how to do things better – 54.55 per cent; Falkirk Council maintains good quality local services – 42.61 per cent; Falkirk Council provides good value for money – 27.84 per cent; Falkirk council is open and honest about funding choices – 32.95 per cent; Falkirk Council involves people in how it spends its money – 25.57 per cent; Falkirk Council meets or exceeds my expectations – 51.14 per cent.

The survey, designed using the Scottish Household Survey and a review of similar surveys carried out by other councils, was carried out in February.

Falkirk Council’s Scrutiny Committee heard that it is hoped it will be done annually, building on these results in future years.

Independent councillor Robert Spears asked if the council was getting its message across to enough people.

He said: “People feel they’re not getting good value for money where in fact they are getting more money than most other areas.

“I think we should be flying our flag a bit higher and letting people know the amount of services we get compared to other places.

“People will moan but it becomes endemic if we don’t counteract it.”

Director of corporate services, Stuart Ritchie, pointed to an annual benchmarking report – which looks at how the council compares to others – and said Falkirk Council was consistently in the top quartile for performance.

However, the opposite is true for benchmarkig figures looking at customer satisfaction – where Falkirk is consistently in the bottom quartile.

Mr Ritchie said: “Falkirk is among 25 local authority landlords and in the benchmarking we fare well in all of the categories but we still get tenants saying they don’t think it’s value for money."

He added: “We can provide the facts to customers and citizens but its their perception.

“Historically, we’ve always been low for customer satisfaction on things like refuse collection, street cleaning, leisure facilities and so on but it doesn’t mirror the quality of the services we provide.”

Labour councillor Allyson Black said the scores were “shockingly low” and wondered if the pandemic had had an effect – something Mr Ritchie agreed was possible.

Mrs Black added: “We do provide excellent services in education and social work etc. but people don’t equate that with what they see around them – such as litter and the state of the roads.

“We need to accept these are priorites for a lot of people and we’re not meeting their expectation.”