News story

Grant Shapps scraps 'cosmetic' £5 million town hall surveys

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Place Survey has been scrapped.

The Place Survey, one of the largest surveys in Europe carried out by local authorities, has been scrapped by Local Government Minister Grant Shapps to prevent cash being diverted from vital public services.

Introduced in 2008, the Place Survey is a postal survey conducted by every council in England. It involves asking questions of over half a million residents and is estimated to cost more than £5 million to run.

Results have been fed back to central government and used to measure councils’ performance on a range of centrally-imposed targets.

Fieldwork for this year’s survey was due to take place by all councils between September and December this year - but the minister has scrapped this.

Mr Shapps believes that the Place Survey was an example of wasteful municipal spending - which required council officials to ask residents a range of intrusive personal questions.

Local Government Minister Grant Shapps said:

These surveys are a cosmetic exercise which never change anything. Let’s give real power back to the people - such as letting taxpayers veto high council tax rises.

Scrapping the survey is part of concerted efforts by the new government to release councils from Whitehall control - leaving them free to respond flexibly and effectively to the needs of their residents.

It follows the scrapping of Comprehensive Area Assessments by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles in June, instead making councils more accountable to residents rather than ministers in Whitehall.

The announcement also follows on from the new government’s plans to require councils to publish online their spending over £500; to stop town hall publications which compete with local newspapers; and to block the practice of councils and quangos hiring agencies to lobby government.