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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 10/07/2007
General Households and Benefits Best Value Satisfaction Surveys

Waverley Borough Council



[Wards Affected: All]
Summary and purpose:

Waverley Borough Council has a statutory requirement, under the Best Value legislation, to conduct resident satisfaction surveys on a tri-annual basis. The requirements of survey timing are such that all local authorities in England will be conducting broadly identical exercises during the same financial year.

The full reports of Waverley’s contractors, QCL Market Research, on both the General Households and Benefits surveys run in 2006/07 have been placed in the Members’ Room and will be made available electronically on the website. This report also introduces the headline findings of the General Households Satisfaction Survey. Draft results were presented to the Executive meeting on 12th June before being referred to Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee for their comments. QCL Market Research were present at the meeting when members had an in-depth discussion on the results of the survey. Their observations are set out at the end of this report for consideration by the Executive.

Environmental implications:

This report has no direct environmental implications.

Social / community implications:

The Best Value Performance Indicators generated from the satisfaction surveys are a comprehensive measure of community satisfaction with Waverley Borough Council and its services. The methodology for conducting these surveys allows direct comparison with other local authorities nationwide.

E-Government implications:

Tabulated national General Household satisfaction survey data for District and Borough Councils were published on the Audit Commission’s website on 22nd May 2007. Final tabulated comparative data is still awaited for the other surveys run in 2006/07.

Resource and legal implications:

The conducting of Best Value Satisfaction surveys, according to a nationally prescribed methodology, is a statutory requirement on Waverley Borough Council.


1. In November 2007, 2500 Waverley residents were contacted to conduct the tri-annual General Households Satisfaction Survey. In total, 1,383 returns were received – a response rate of almost 56%. QCL Market Research undertook the survey on Waverley’s behalf. The final reports have been placed in the Members’ Room and are available on the website.

2. During the same financial year, a separate Satisfaction Survey exercise was performed on a smaller sample of Benefits service users.

3. Both surveys produced a set of Best Value Performance Indicators. These are the national satisfaction scores used by the Audit Commission as part of their assessments of Council performance. The scores for the BVPIs relevant to the General Households and Benefits surveys were reported to the Executive meeting on 12th June 2007.

General Households Survey

4. The General Survey asked questions covering a wide range of topics related to:

The quality of life in Waverley
Experiences of antisocial behaviour in the Borough
The quality of Waverley Borough Council’s services

Quality of Life in Waverley

5. In respect of Quality of Life (extracted from the General Households Survey), data shows that 83% of the Borough’s residents are satisfied with Waverley as a place to live, with only 6% dissatisfied.

6. Respondents were also asked to identify, from a list of factors, what makes an area a good place to live. From the same list, respondents were asked to indicate what most improvement in Waverley. Figures 1 and 2 (below) show headline results.

Number of residents identifying as an important QoL Factor
Number of residents identifying as needing improvement in Waverley

Figure 1: Top 5 Priorities, by ‘Most Needs Improving’

Figure 2: Top 5 Priorities, by ‘Importance to Quality of Life’ Experience of Antisocial Behaviour in Waverley (RESPECT) 7. The General Survey also produced data to inform the national RESPECT indicators, which provide a measure of antisocial behaviour issues in the Borough. In addition to weighting these responses to ensure they are consistent with Waverley’s demographic makeup, the final scores have also been weighted to take account of deprivation.

8. The key indicator shows that the proportion of residents perceiving antisocial behaviour to be a problem in Waverley has dropped from 31% in 2003/04 to just 11% in 2006/07.

9. Whilst comparable historical data is not available for the other RESPECT measures, the proportion of residents who perceive the following areas to be a problem in Waverley was as follows:

Parents not taking responsibility for the behaviour of their children41%
People not treating each other with sufficient respect and consideration30%
How informed they are about the Council’s contribution to reducing antisocial behaviour26%

Satisfaction with Waverley Borough Council – Best Value Data

10. The General Households Survey is also used to produce a set of Best Value Performance Indicators – measures, used nationally, to compare Councils’ satisfaction ratings. The final figures reported to the Audit Commission are weighted to ensure that the response is reflective of the makeup of the Borough’s population as a whole.

11. Councils undertaking the General Survey were required to achieve a ‘maximum 3% margin of error, to a 95% confidence level’. This means that, if the same questions were posed to the population at large, it is 95% certain that the scores would not vary by more than 3% either way from the reported figures.

12. In terms of overall satisfaction with the Council, Waverley has seen a drop of 10% from its 2003/04 score. The score of 50% in 2006/07 places Waverley on the border between the third and bottom quartiles for English Borough and District Councils, and firmly in the third quartile for English Councils overall.

13. Just over one fifth of the respondents had lodged a complaint with the Borough Council during the preceding 12 months. Of these people, the proportion that were satisfied with the manner in which their complaint was handled remained relatively static from 2003/04 at 29%. The difficulty in separating perceptions of outcome from perceptions of process quality is reflected by the fact that top quartile performance for this indicator stands at just 38%.

14. Earlier in 2006/07, the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee undertook a Review of Complaints and produced a series of recommendations. From the beginning of March, satisfaction with complaints handling has been monitored actively by means of questionnaires sent out with responses. A sampling exercise is also being undertaken against a three-month series of complaints, producing an objective view of process quality by scoring responses against a checklist of best practice.

Figure 3: Performance against BV3 (Overall Satisfaction) and BV 4 (Satisfaction with Complaints Handling)

15. In terms of environmental services indicators, an increase was recorded in satisfaction with Street Cleanliness (62% to 68%). The sharpest fall in satisfaction was recorded in the area of ‘Waste Collection’ (BV90a, from 90% to 52%), whilst satisfaction with ‘Recycling Facilities’ (BV90b) also fell.

16. Figure 4 (below) shows the relationship between trends in both overall satisfaction and satisfaction with waste collection, with a focus on 23 authorities that implemented Alternate Weekly Collection during the 12 months leading up to the Survey timeframe.

Figure 4: % Change between 2003/04 and 2006/07 in BV3 (Overall Satisfaction) and BV90a (Satisfaction with Waste Collection) in 23 Councils implementing Alternate Weekly Collection during 2006/07

17. The General Survey also poses a series of questions on satisfaction with Leisure and Cultural service provision (BV119a-e). In order to maintain comparability between results, Audit Commission rules strictly prescribe the wording for mandatory questions.

18. This obliged Waverley to question residents on satisfaction with Libraries (BV119b), which we do not provide. These results have therefore been excluded from this paper. Waverley was also obliged to ask residents about their satisfaction with Theatres & Concert Halls (which could, more accurately, have read ‘Arts Activities and Venues’).

19. Satisfaction with Waverley’s Museums & Galleries (BV119c) and Parks & Open Spaces (BV119e) falls in the second quartile nationally. Satisfaction with Sports & Leisure provision (BV119a) and Theatres and Concert Halls (BV119d) falls into the third quartile nationally. With the exception of the Parks and Open Spaces indicator, satisfaction for this set of indicators has not moved significantly in actual terms between 2003/04 and 2006/07.

Figure 5: Performance against BV119 (Satisfaction with Culture and Leisure Services)

Planning & Housing Services

20. Questions concerning Waverley’s Planning and Housing services revealed satisfaction levels of 42% and 39% respectively. However, both figures result from the relatively small number of respondents who have direct dealings with those services. Separate Best Value surveys were undertaken in the areas of Planning and Housing during 2006/07, the results of which were communicated to the relevant O&S Committees.

Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee

21. The Committee held a detailed discussion on the findings presented by QCL Market Research and agreed to pass the following observations to the Executive, that:-

1. the Committee was disappointed with the results of the General Survey and hoped to see the new administration do significantly better in the next three years;

2. the Committee recognised that there appeared to be some correlation between the satisfaction with household waste collection and the overall satisfaction with the Council and noted that keeping residents informed could help reverse the trend;

3. consideration should be given to the lack of activities for teenagers in the borough;

4. there was concern about a number of areas raised in the results which were not directly the responsibility of the Council and the Committee expected to be able to help address the aspirations of their local residents with the agencies responsible;

5. as well as areas which could not be dealt with immediately due to potential resource implications, other issues such as complaints handling could be addressed internally expediently;

6. if officers were not made aware of the expectations of the residents when dealing with their queries, even if unable to do anything directly to deal with the issue in hand, consideration could be given to the way the customer is dealt with and how they are informed;

7. the Executive should be made aware of the observations above and the Committee requested that they be kept informed of the Executive’s proposals as to how they plan to address some of the key issues that have emerged; this included the following five areas most in need of improvement:-

a. public transport
b. decent, affordable housing
c. activities for teenagers
d. road and pavement repairs
e. traffic congestion levels


It is recommended that the observations of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee, as set out in paragraph 21 above, be noted.

Background Papers (MD)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.


Name: Christopher Ash Telephone: 01483 523148
Name: Anne Bott Telephone: 01483 523415
E-mail: abott@waverley.gov.uk