27/01/2016 - Permalink

Shropshire Council thanks residents for Big Conversation responses

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Shropshire Council would like to thank everyone who took part in the councils Big Conversation survey. The first view of the results have now been collated.

A total of 2,271 people and organisations took part in the survey which ran from 17 November until 6 January 2016.

The Big Conversation survey is the first phase of a five-year conversation the council wants to have with Shropshire people to ask them what council services are most important to them, and what they can do to help and make the remaining resources it has go further.

The survey asked people about the council service areas they thought were the most important to protect from reductions in spending.

The results shown below indicate that protecting vulnerable children is considered the most important service area to protect from reductions in spending, followed by education and supporting older people and vulnerable adults. Protecting vulnerable children and education are regarded as being roughly twice as important as employment services, and three times as important as health and housing services.

 1. Vulnerable Children – fostering and adoption, support for looked after children, ensuring children remain safe from harm

2. Education – schools and educational services

 3. Older people and vulnerable adults – to help them live independently and enhance their quality of life

4. Environment – waste collection and recycling services and maintaining and protecting Shropshire’s green spaces and countryside

5. Transport – maintaining roads, public transport, schools transport services and concessionary travel

6. Employment- helping people gain employment, access to education and support for economic development and investment into Shropshire

7. Leisure- libraries, cultural, tourism and outdoor recreation services

8. Housing- such as supported housing and planning services

9. Health- healthier lifestyles and services to help prevent ill health

10. Running the Council- overseeing services that manage Shropshire Council’s budget, buildings and council staff

11. Safety- regulation and protection for businesses and consumers as well as communities

12. Births, deaths and marriages- registration, coroners and inquests and bereavements

The Big Conversation survey also asked about ways of making savings and delivering services:

  • 77% respondents agree or strongly agree that the Council should combine services with other Council’s and Public Sector organisations. Just one in ten (10%) disagree.
  • 53% of respondents agree or strongly agree with investing in IT to reduce staff costs. A fifth (21%) of respondents disagree.
  • Some 62% of respondents generally agree that Shropshire Council should protect some services and cut back others in order to make savings, while 17% disagree.

 Residents were asked their views around working with active communities.

  • Some 61% of respondents agree that Shropshire Council should make more use of local residents and volunteers to deliver services in order to make savings, whilst only 22% disagree.
  • 71% of respondents agree that communities should be enabled to do more for themselves. Some 12% of respondents disagree.
  • 32% of respondents are willing or very willing to contribute through participation or volunteering. Only 15% stated they are not willing to do so.

 Respondents were also asked about locally raised income.

  • More than 55% of respondents agree that fees should be increased so that the costs of some services are largely paid for by the direct user.
  • 49% of respondents agree with raising Council Tax compared to 34% who disagree. 15% of respondents identified that they neither agree nor disagree with increasing Council Tax.

Nearly a third (30%) of respondents to the survey stated that they would like to be involved in further engagement through focus groups and workshops during January and February 2016.

Councillor Cecilia Motley, Cabinet Member for rural services and communities and Shropshire’s Big Conversation, said;

“The Big Conversation has been the council’s biggest conversation to date, and it comes in light of continuous Government cuts which, in five years’ time, will leave only one quarter of the current funding that pays for over 150 services. This is a reduction of 75% from the £100m the council currently spends on these services, and means it will have to stop delivering some services.

“So in the same way that many residents are making difficult decisions about their budget, the Council must continue to do the same.

“The survey, was conducted to ensure that future council services are influenced by the people who use them and will be followed by further consultations with local people, partners, community organisations and businesses across Shropshire in 2016.

“I would like to thank everyone who has taken time to tell us what services they feel are important to them and how we can meet the financial challenges ahead.”

Clive Wright, Chief Executive for Shropshire Council added:

“We’ve had a fantastic response to the first phase of the Big Conversation. It’s been really encouraging to see so many local people and organisations from across a wide spread of geographic and social economic backgrounds.

“Although we are still analysing the results of the survey, initial findings highlight where we need to go and explore further.

“We will keep everyone updated on our progress and continue to encourage people to get involved in the Big Conversation to help us take forward the financial strategy and budget proposals for the next 4 years.”

Feedback will also inform the development of the next stage of the Big Conversation which will run from April 2016 for the coming years.

To view the details of the survey report and for more information about the Big Conversation visit shropshire.gov.uk/bigconversation or email:bigconversation@shropshire.gov.uk

Further information

The councils 12 broad service areas were compared against each other multiple times, in groups of four at a time in different combinations. The respondent each time was asked to select the ONE that was most important and the ONE that was least important. 

The technique is called MAXDIFF and is used for understanding the relative importance of a range of factors, in this case, service areas

The report describes headline survey findings from Phase 1 of the Big Conversation. The research was conducted via an online survey of individuals, businesses and other groups, as well as an on-street survey with local people aged 16 or over. The survey was designed by Shropshire Council and Pye Tait Consulting. It launched on 17th November 2015 and closed on 6th January 2016. A total of 2,271 responses were received.

  • 84% of respondents identified themselves as residents of Shropshire
  • 14% identified themselves as Council Staff
  • 10% identified themselves as local interest, community or faith groups
  • 9% identified themselves as businesses

There remains a good spread across geography and demography, although some age ranges and localities have % return rates that differ to the census data breakdowns. The 16-44 age group and 75+ age group has slight under-representation. [There was over representation in the 55 to 64 age group and the 65 to 74 age group.] 16% of respondents were family (informal) carers

Further reports are expected over the coming weeks following more detailed qualitative and quantitative analysis of the Survey Results, and the completion of focus groups. There will also be two action planning stakeholder workshops in February. A final report will be produced at the end of March 2016.

The findings from the Survey and the Focus Groups will be used to inform the council’s Financial Strategy, the Council’s Vision and future Corporate Plan for the Council.