Highland Council’s annual Performance and Attitudes survey continues to show a high level of satisfaction
The Highland Council’s annual Performance and Attitudes survey continues to show a high level of satisfaction with Council services.
Every year the Council surveys members of its Citizen’s Panel, which is designed to be representative of the adult population. This year 1,024 respondents of a possible 2,346 replied to the survey which asked for opinions on:
- Contact with the Council
- Satisfaction with the Council
- Community life
- Highland’s creativity
Overall satisfaction with Council services continues to remain above the target of 80%, with the highest scores found for Service Points, walking routes and payment of Council Tax (83%). Refuse/bin collection and parks and open spaces both scored 78%.
Of those that responded, 88% said that they found it easy to contact the Council. 60% felt that their request was dealt with by the first person they contacted.
The survey also showed an increase in satisfaction with the Council’s website from last year’s survey, with 53% of respondents rating it as good compared to 39% in 2014. More respondents were aware that they could access information via social media, with an increase from 39% to 55%.
Highland communities continue to be viewed positively. 92.6% rated their neighbourhood or community as very or fairly good. 96.8% viewed the area within 15 minutes’ walk from their home as very or fairly safe.
Respondents were asked to rate a range of local services within their communities. Local schools (72%), local health services (77%) and leisure facilities/events (62%) received the top 3 highest ratings.
Highland residents continue to have a high level of engagement in volunteering. 39% of respondents said that they were engaged in volunteering activity; well above the most recent national average of 28%. Of those that said they volunteered, 51% said that they did this at least once a week.
Panellists were asked to agree or disagree with statements relating to the Council’s values of: listening, being open, valuing, improving, supporting, partnering and delivering. Those that responded agreed that the Council maintained good quality local services, was approachable, helpful and environmentally friendly.
The survey also highlighted areas that needed improvement. Respondents indicated more dissatisfaction than satisfaction with road repairs and winter maintenance. This is within the context of savings agreed by the council in 2014, which has resulted in fewer gritters. However, work to make these services more innovative and efficient is currently ongoing, with extra funding being made available for roads to ensure that repairs are permanent rather than temporary. The Council is also undertaking a further review of winter maintenance services over this winter.
There was also a reduction in satisfaction levels for some areas of contact with the Council. 56% thought that waiting times for visits to Council offices were “good” compared to 62% in 2014. The number of respondents who were satisfied with the ease of getting through to someone who could help them via telephone fell from 54% to 49%. The Council are looking to increase the number of services available online and via telephone to reduce waiting times and give customers a greater choice in when and how they interact with us.
Leader of the Council, Council Margaret Davidson said: “The results of this survey show that despite the challenging financial climate and the impact of savings on services to date, Highland Council continues to provide quality services with a very high level of customer satisfaction.
“It is particularly reassuring that the Council is seen as being approachable, helpful and environmentally friendly, however, we are aware that more work is needed to involve the public in local decision making. This has been made a priority in the Council’s programme , “Highland First”.
“Work is already underway to deliver better services in areas such as pothole repair, which will make the process both more permanent and efficient and we are determined to make significant investment in our roads.
“The coming year will be particularly challenging in light of the anticipated budget gap. Further substantial savings will need to be made, but we will continue to look at ways that we can improve services in the Highland Council area and reduce the impact of savings as far as possible on communities. We will be asking the Citizens’ Panel to help us with our consultation on savings prior to decisions being made in February 2016.”