Citizen survey to help Council prioritise spending post-Covid
Edinburgh residents are being asked for their views on how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected Council services in a new survey launched online today.
Since the global outbreak flared up in late March of this year, thousands of staff across the Council – and its partners – have pulled together in a massive effort to keep essential services going in extremely difficult circumstances. This has involved supporting vulnerable people, processing 8,000+ crisis support applications in record time and providing vital face-to-face services to more than 6,000 people in Council Resilience Centres, to name but a few.
The four-week survey, which went live on the Council’s Consultations Hub earlier today [Thurs 12 Nov 2020], seeks public feedback on how the Council has performed during the crisis, as well as input on which services people have particularly missed, in cases where those services have had to be paused or restricted due to Covid-19.
The survey has been organised with two key aims in mind: 1) to assess service performance and gauge where improvements could be made; and 2) to help inform critical budget-setting decisions early in the new year.
The engagement survey asks residents where the Council could reduce the cost or the frequency of services it provides to the respondent’s household.
Finance and Resources Convener Councillor Rob Munn said: Every year we invest hundreds of millions of pounds to provide essential public services to Scotland’s Capital and we shape our spending plans based on direct feedback from the residents themselves and what they tell us is most important to them.
Public feedback was instrumental in establishing our overarching priorities for the city; from tackling poverty and inequality to improving sustainability and promoting wellbeing. Now, we’re seeking residents’ help once again as we look to update our spending plans in line with these core priorities, and I know we’ll receive invaluable and constructive responses to our consultation to inform our future spending plans.
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed all our lives and we’re each still navigating the challenges and changes it’s brought about. Our services have been greatly impacted, too, and we need to rethink how we deliver on our key commitments and priorities for Edinburgh. I want to pay tribute to the tireless work of Council staff who continue to go above and beyond to make sure we’re supporting our communities, particularly those who are most vulnerable. We have had some enormously positive feedback already from local residents who have appreciated this ‘extra mile’ commitment; everyone should be immensely proud of the work they have done and continue to do for the good of this city.
Finance and Resources Vice Convener Councillor Joan Griffiths said:“Residents’ views are absolutely fundamental to our decision-making process and we want to hear from as many people as possible so that we can understand how they’ve been affected by the pandemic’s impact on our services and how they want us to prioritise where we spend our budget in the coming year.
Addressing poverty is a critical goal for us – just last month we set a target of eradicating poverty in Edinburgh within the next ten years, accepting the challenge set for us by the Edinburgh Poverty Commission. We also want to hear ideas and suggestions on how the city can achieve our challenging climate change target of net zero emissions by 2030 – no mean feat at the best of times but even more pressing in these hugely difficult circumstances. Please have your say and help us plan for a sustainable, fair future for Edinburgh – your views really do make a difference.
The most recent budget, set in February this year, saw the Council invest over £1 billion in services and in the Council’s core priorities of tackling poverty and inequality, boosting sustainability and promoting wellbeing in the city.
The survey also invites comments on how the city can tackle another pressing global emergency: climate change. Respondents are asked to detail ideas on how they think Edinburgh could meet its ambitious net-zero emissions target of 2030.
Last month Edinburgh became the first UK local authority to set an end date for eradicating poverty, pledging to end poverty in the city within 10 years. In light of this and in the knowledge that many more people are facing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic, the survey asks what the Council should prioritise to help the city and those who have been hardest hit to recover,
Dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic continues to be extremely challenging and the crisis has significantly impacted the Council’s services and finances.
Due to significant levels of extra cost and lower income resulting from the pandemic, despite having already identified over £80m of further savings and funding in 2020/21, the Council still has to find at least an additional £5.1m this year. A further £47.5m, in addition to over £40m of measures previously approved for delivery, is needed over the following three years in savings or service cuts.
The survey will be open for four weeks, closing on 10 December 2020. Feedback submitted will then be used to shape budget deliberations and planning ahead of the formal budget setting in the first few months of 2021.