We have now analysed your responses seeking your views on the Council’s cost of living support measures and whether further measures should be considered; awareness of the Climate action plan and whether further action should be considered; whether there should be an increase in council tax and fees and charges to help balance the budget and views on the delivery of services in local area.
The findings below will inform Council Budget decisions to be taken at the meeting on 23 February.
A full list of the open text responses is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The ‘Have YOUR Say’ Budget Consultation to inform the Council Budget for 2023/24 was launched on 13 November and ran for four weeks until Sunday 11 December.
The consultation was promoted online through the Council website and social media channels and promotional materials were available in the four Community Hubs, EDLC Trust leisure centres and through the local media. In addition, outreach workers attended a range of events and visited shopping centres and the retail park with information leaflets and tablets to encourage participation.
A total of 857 responses were received. More than half of respondents (54%) did not share their locality, but the locality information that was provided shows that there was a spread of responses form across the whole area.
The demographic information shows that the ethnicity of respondents broadly reflects the overall ethnicity of the area, whilst the age profile of respondents shows that over 60% of respondents were in the 35-54 year old category. A significantly higher number of females responded to the survey compared to males. Those who responded with long term illness and disability or with caring responsibilities were broadly reflective of the overall profile for the area.
In relation to Council Tax increases, 58% were in favour of either a 3% or greater increase, and in relation to fees and charges, 61% were in favour of either a 3% or greater increase.
Over 80% of those who responded agreed with the Council’s Cost of Living support measures. Just over 40% were aware of the Climate Action Plan, over 80% felt more could be done to raise awareness of this and just over 67% felt we could do more to address the climate emergency.
Over 86% of respondents felt we should make as many services as possible available online and 67% felt that services could be delivered in more of our local communities and just over 70% felt a wider range of services could be delivered locally. Almost 85% agreed that a rota of a days/times that services might be available in a local area was an appropriate approach.
Open Text Responses
Not everyone who completed the survey added comments in the open text boxes, but of those that did, there were a wide range of comments, but with some common themes emerging. Analysis of the open text comments is not a precise science and there are opposing views shared but common themes emerging under the cost of living section and the climate action section are as follows:
Cost of Living
In relation to Cost of Living support a number of themes were identifiable. A large number of comments were made about supporting families/households/individuals not on benefits but struggling with increasing bills and mortgages or private sector rents. Comments in this them included that those on benefits were already receiving significant support yet those above the award criteria thresholds who might be struggling despite two wage earners were receiving no support. There were numerous suggestions for the provision of warm spaces and for these to include bot drink or meal provision. In addition to the current warm spaces already being promoted there were suggestions to allow people to access Council offices already being heated during the day and for secondary pupils to be able to stay on in schools after hours as a safe warm space. The provision of free school meals for all and holiday lunch clubs/meal provision was also a recurring theme, and whilst there were suggestions to roll out free gym and swim access more widely there were other comments that these should not be provided or should be means tested rather than universal to each school sector.
In relation to how to fund any additional Cost of Living support, a frequently made comment was that this should be supported through Westminster and Scottish Government funding. There were a range of comments in support of Council Tax increases, with come qualifying that perhaps the upper bands or wealthier residents should pay a higher proportion of additional costs. There were also comments made in relation to ensuring services were delivered as efficiently as possible, that heating and lighting in Council buildings should be reviewed and decreased and that selling Council assets could provide funding.
Under additional climate action that could be taken, increasing the network of fast electric car charging points for vehicles was proposed, and the continued review of the Council fleet. There were a number of comments in relation to increasing the number of solar panels in the area, providing grants for these on domestic properties and including them on Council facilities. Energy efficiency measures and more sustainable heating options such as heat pump systems were also suggested and providing grants for such measures in the private housing sector was put forward. Increasing recycling levels and recycling infrastructure was also a common comment with requests for segregated recycling bins in public spaces and greater capacity for recycling from household properties.
As with Cost of Living, funding suggestions included requesting additional grant from Government, delivering efficiencies across the operation of the Council estate, selling facilities no longer required.
Who responded to the survey?
Total Number of Responses
There was a total number of 857 responses to the survey.
Do you have any long-standing illness, disability or infirmity?
Are you responsible for caring for an adult relative/partner, disabled child or friend/neighbour?