Public want local improvement in job prospects and activities for teenagers

Just over a third of British adults (35%) identify activities for teenagers as the top priority for improvement in their local area, according to the Ipsos MORI Local Improvement Index.

Just over a third of British adults (35%) identify activities for teenagers as the top priority for improvement in their local area, according to the Ipsos MORI Local Improvement Index. The finding comes from a poll on local issues undertaken by Ipsos MORI last month and published in the Municipal Journal today. Activities for teenagers feature just above job prospects (34%) as a priority for improvement, followed by the condition of roads and pavements (32%). These issues make up the top three among 21 possibilities presented to respondents. Notably, they feature above the level of crime and anti-social behaviour (20%) and health services (11%), which have historically featured among the top issues of concern to the public nationally. Only 8% consider schools a top priority for improvement in their local area. In the Ipsos MORI poll, those with children (39%) and 15-24 year olds are particularly likely to identify activities for teenagers as most in need of improvement (41%). Younger age groups are also most likely to pick out job prospects with 43% of 15-24s choosing it (making it top-ranked among this group) as do 37% of 25-34 year olds. Meanwhile, older age groups tend to prioritise road and pavement conditions, and are more likely than other age groups to identify health and social care. These three issues – activities for teenagers, job prospects and the condition of roads and pavements – make up the top three in the North of England, the Midlands, the South and Scotland. In London, however, the level of crime and anti-social behaviour (34%) sits alongside activities for teenagers (33%) and job prospects (35%). The top-ranked improvement in the North of England is road and pavement condition (39%), receiving proportionately higher mentions than in the South (29%) where the affordability of housing (28% versus 18% in the North) is more salient.

Other findings from the poll include:

  • More think their local area will get worse over the next twelve months than think it will get better (18% against 12%) but most, 69%, think it will stay the same.
  • Pessimism is most prevalent in respect of local economic conditions. Twenty-six per cent think these will get worse over the same period, only 9% better and 63% the same. This gives a local Economic Optimism Index (EOI) of -17.
  • Economic pessimism is stronger at national than local level. The local EOI of -17 compares with Ipsos MORI’s national EOI of -32 in June and again this month.
  • Londoners are relatively more optimistic about the prospects of their local area: 21% think the local area will get better, 13% think the economic condition will improve.
Ben Page, Chief Executive of Ipsos MORI, said:
“What is striking is how the activities for teenagers and the state of streets and pavements – two hardy perennials in the public’s list of local concerns about quality of life – have been joined by youth unemployment in the recession. As so often the “wisdom of crowds” is pretty clear – one year of youth unemployment can affect your life for the next twenty years.”

Technical note

1. * ‘Local area’ was defined: “…please consider your local area to be the area within 15-20 minutes walking distance from your home”. 2. Ipsos MORI interviewed 986 British adults aged 15+ across 155 sampling points face-to-face in-home between 15-21 June 2012. Data has been weighted to the known population profile. 3. Unweighted base sizes for regions are as follows: North of England (384), Midlands (245), South (228), London (129), Scotland (103). Analysis of opinion in Wales is not possible (32). 4. The full list of issues included in the Ipsos MORI Local Improvement Index and presented to respondents (with the % identifying each) is as follows:
  • activities for teenagers (35%),
  • job prospects (34%),
  • condition of roads and pavements (32%),
  • cleanliness of streets (24%),
  • affordability of housing (22%),
  • the level of crime and anti-social behaviour (20%),
  • local high street facilities (18%),
  • facilities for young children (16%),
  • wage levels and local cost of living (15%),
  • public transport (15%),
  • parks and open spaces (15%),
  • sports and leisure facilities (13%),
  • the level of traffic congestion (12%),
  • health services (11%),
  • social care – adults and older people (9%),
  • schools (8%),
  • social care – children and families (7%),
  • cultural facilities (e.g. libraries, museums) (6%),
  • the quality of the local environment (5%),
  • race/community relations (4%), and
  • adult education/training (4%).
  • [No improvements needed >0.5%, Other 1%]
5. The Place Survey, undertaken by every English and Welsh local authority in 2008-9, similarly found the public keen to see improvement in activities for teenagers. Crime and anti-social behaviour was also among the top-ranked issues with traffic congestion and road repairs. Methodologies and a different list of issues means that direct like-for-like comparisons are not possible.

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