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Local communities not ready to take service reins according to research from Zurich Municipal

17th May 2011, 09:30

Contributing to the Big Society may be a step too far for many people, who say they just don't have the time for voluntary work, according to new research by public sector insurer Zurich Municipal.

Nearly two thirds (62%) of people said they would be unlikely to volunteer to help community organisations deliver local services that in the past may have been provided by their local council  – and almost half (47%) think that voluntary or charitable organisations running public services would be a bad thing.

While surveys have shown that people may support the idea of the Big Society in principle, our survey shows that when it comes to actually participating it's a different story – around one in four (24%) aren't even interested in how local council services work, as long as they're doing their job.

The main reasons for this lack of support are work commitments and having other things to do with their spare time – showing that there is still a lot to be done to persuade people of the benefits of getting involved.

Andrew Jepp, director of public services at Zurich Municipal, said:

"Our research suggests that in the drive for a Big Society, there is more to be done to foster an environment of "people power" and re-engage communities.

"For public involvement to become a reality, people will need to be shown both how they could play their part, and indeed just how positive an experience it could be. Now is the time for public service providers to pull together and help educate people on the detail."

Another challenge to the Big Society aspiration of involving people in setting priorities for how local government time and money is spent is that the public has widely varying views on those priorities. For example, Zurich Municipal’s research shows that when it comes to policing, opinion is split on what should be the top priorities:

· Dealing with 999 calls (39%)
· Tackling major crime (35%)
· Managing anti-social behaviour (33%)
· Targeting drug dealing (33%)

"This highlights the challenges of involving the public in priority-setting, as they're understandably no clearer than the providers themselves on how or where to make cuts," said Jepp.

"Any push towards increased involvement is going to need support and education - without this, the more obviously 'popular' or visible services may be prioritised over those equally valuable but less known ones. This could prove a false economy, leading to a gap in delivery that could be difficult to plug in the future."

About Zurich Municipal’s research
Big Society data: Ipsos MORI conducted a face to face omnibus survey on 25th Feb - 3rd March 2011 among 1,003 adults aged 15+ across 160 sampling points in Great Britain on behalf of Zurich Municipal.  Data are weighted by age, gender, tenure, social grade and ethnicity.
Policing data: This is based on a face to face omnibus survey by Ipsos MORI which achieved 991 interviews across Great Britain aged 15+ from 11th to 17th March 2011. Weighting as before.

For further information contact:
Louise Naqvi, Zurich Financial Services on t: 01489 561574 m: 07875 885120 e: louise.naqvi@uk.zurich.com
Notes to Editors:
Zurich’s UK General Insurance division is part of Zurich Insurance plc, and supplies personal, commercial and local authority insurance through a variety of distribution channels.  Based at locations all across the UK, with large sites in Birmingham, Cardiff, London, Farnborough and Whiteley, the division employs approximately 4,200 people.

Zurich Financial Services Group (Zurich) is a leading multi-line insurance provider with a global network of subsidiaries and offices in Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East as well as other markets. It offers a wide range of general insurance and life insurance products and services for individuals, small businesses, mid-sized and large companies as well as multinational corporations. Zurich employs about 60,000 people serving customers in more than 170 countries. Founded in 1872, the Group is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. Zurich Financial Services Ltd (ZURN) is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and has a level I American Depositary Receipt program (ZFSVY) which is traded over-the-counter on OTCQX. Further information about Zurich is available at www.zurich.com

 
 

Zurich Municipal is a trading name of Zurich Insurance plc, a public limited company incorporated in Ireland. Registration No. 13460. Registered Office: Zurich House, Ballsbridge Park, Dublin 4, Ireland. UK Branch registered in England and Wales Registration No. BR7985. UK Branch Head Office: The Zurich Centre, 3000 Parkway, Whiteley, Fareham, Hampshire PO15 7JZ.

Zurich Insurance plc, a public limited company incorporated in Ireland. Registration No. 13460.Registered Office: Zurich House, Ballsbridge Park, Dublin 4, Ireland. UK Branch registered in England and Wales Registration No. BR7985. UK Branch Head Office: The Zurich Centre, 3000 Parkway, Whiteley, Fareham, Hampshire PO15 7JZ. Zurich Insurance plc is authorised by the Central Bank of Ireland and subject to limited regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details about the extent of our regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority are available from us on request. These details can be checked on the FCA’s Financial Services Register via their website www.fca.org.uk or by contacting them on 0800 111 6768. Our FCA Firm Reference Number is 203093.