Community cohesion is at an all-time high despite plummeting economic confidence during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey of local government chiefs and leaders.
However, funding and supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) also dominated the agenda during April, the New Local Government Network (NLGN) think tank found.
Its quarterly Leadership Index survey of 615 chief executives, leaders and mayors found confidence levels in the economy slumped to its lowest-ever levels, with optimism in the local business environment falling by over a third compared to before the COVID-19 crisis.
There was a slender fall of 5% in the number of leaders who felt they had adequate powers and resources to boost economic development.
Despite the economic gloom, community ‘cohesion’ and ‘trust’ have never been higher, both exceeding 70 on a scale on 0 to 100 for the first time since the index began.
Confidence levels in powers and resources have also increased for all key service areas outside economic development, rising by 19% for adult social care and 17% for children’s services attributed to the Government’s ‘mixed messaging’ over funding.
Indeed, more than three quarters (78%) of council chiefs believed more funding was required overall, and 37% of respondents said they had been forced to suspend services.
Almost half (43% ) called for more personal protective equipment (PPE), while a third ranked better sharing of data among their top concerns.