Care cutbacks cause dip in local councils' image

Cutbacks in social care and children's services cause the biggest threat to the reputations of local councils, acc­ording to a poll of 123 UK council comms managers.

More than two-thirds (69 per cent) of the local authority communicators surveyed said an increase in funding for social and children's services would provide the single biggest boost to their council's standing.

The second most effective way the Government could help improve the perception of local authorities would be to devolve more power, acc­ording to the survey carried out by local government trade body LG Communications.

The vast majority (96 per cent) of council PROs feel their departments manage the media well, secu­ring overwhelmingly positive local and regional coverage. Some 82 per cent feel radio coverage is positive, with 75 per cent saying the same for newspapers. However, more than half (52 per cent) do not feel internal comms is given enough resources.

The biggest challenges facing local government comms in 2008 will be linking corporate identity to serv­ices and improving consultation with residents, with around half of respondents (46 per cent and 44 per cent respectively) listing these as priorities for 2008.

LG Comms chair and head of comms at Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council Jayne Surman said: ‘It is clear that the key battlegrounds will be improving consultation with residents and making sure they are fully aware of the vast range of services provided by their
local authority.'

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