Jonathan Werran 29 April 2015

Local politicians more trusted than Whitehall finds poll

A new poll has revealed that residents trust their local politicians twice as much as their Westminster counterparts.

Nearly one-third (32%) of councillors were trusted on sub-regional spending choices compared with 16% of national politicians, a YouGov survey commissioned by the Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) indicated.

More than three-quarters of respondents (77%) believed local areas should have control of their own budgets and a similar number (78%) said accountability over local expenditure should be vested at local level instead of at Whitehall.

Despite this apparent support for greater fiscal freedom, the overwhelming majority, nearly seven-out-of-10 (68%) of those questioned opposed any council tax increase of more than 2%.

However, when any increase in local charges was linked to a specific service, 61% of respondents would back a levy hike if the extra revenue was spent on care for the elderly.

A further 52% of those polled would approve additional council tax cash earmarked for road maintenance and repairs and 33% said they would approve extra funds to protect library services.

CIPFA chief executive, Rob Whiteman, said the survey findings showing low public trust with the ‘political class’, together with a ‘paucity of financial information’ in the parties’ manifesto commitments, demonstrated why the organisation had ‘been calling for greater devolution of financial powers from Westminster to local areas’.

‘Importantly, this devolution must not only be over spending, in effect the power to decide where to cut, but also the power over how to raise funds to be used locally,’ he added.

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