Research Report. Customer Perceptions Survey 2015 Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services

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1 Research Report Customer Perceptions Survey 2015 Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services Prepared for: Local Government Association (LGA) Prepared by: BMG Research

2 Customer Perceptions Survey 2015 Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services Prepared for: Local Government Association (LGA) Prepared by: BMG Research Date: April 2015 Produced by BMG Research Bostock Marketing Group Ltd, Project: 9605 Registered in England No Registered office: 7 Holt Court North Heneage Street West Birmingham Science Park Aston B7 4AX UK Tel: +44 (0) UK VAT Registration No Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Member No. B4626 Market Research Society Company Partner British Quality Foundation Member The provision of Market Research Services in accordance with ISO 20252:2012 The provision of Market Research Services in accordance with ISO 9001:2008 The International Standard for Information Security Management ISO 27001:2005 Investors in People Standard - Certificate No. WMQC 0614 Interviewer Quality Control Scheme (IQCS) Member Company Registered under the Data Protection Act - Registration No. Z The BMG Research logo is a trade mark of Bostock Marketing Group Ltd

3 Table of Contents Executive summary... 1 Background and objectives... 1 Method... 1 Findings... 1 Views on the LGA and its services... 2 Views on LGA communications... 3 Views on sector-led improvement... 3 Conclusions Introduction Background Objectives Method Sampling Analytical approach Report structure Views on the LGA and its services Knowledge of the LGA Understanding of the purpose of the LGA Discussing the LGA with others Satisfaction with the work of the LGA on behalf of the sector LGA capabilities Extent to which the LGA been an effective advocate for the interests of the sector Benefits of relationship with the LGA Activities conducted by the LGA Services provided by the LGA Developing an additional offer Views on LGA communications Attitudes and preferences for LGA communications Level of engagement with the LGA How do authorities/services engage with the LGA Positive examples of engagement... 28

4 Customer Perceptions Survey 2015 Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services 4 Views on sector-led improvement Awareness of sector-led improvement Capacity for continuous improvement Sources of support Views on the sector-led approach Conclusions... 35

5 Executive summary Executive summary Background and objectives BMG Research has prepared this report for the Local Government Association (LGA) in order to summarise the findings from the Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services Perceptions Survey This research aims to: 1. Quantify members' understanding of the LGA and what the LGA currently offers. This includes an examination of awareness levels, knowledge of and favourability towards the LGA, including channels of awareness and understanding, functions perceived to be part of the LGA s remit, and how effective the LGA is seen at fulfilling these functions. 2. Investigate what the membership want from the LGA and how they want to engage. This aspect provides feedback on a strategic level in terms of the organisation s role and responsibilities but also on a tactical level in terms of formats and channels preferred e.g. the extent to which communications have been digitalised. 3. Assess views of sector-led improvement within local government, and views on support offered by the LGA to assist its members in this. The research identifies areas where the LGA might enhance its support in this area, by investigating the membership s preferences and experiences of support and by unpicking the impact that such support has had, by asking respondents to reflect on the impacts of their engagement with the LGA and the resources it provides to support sector-led improvement. Method Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI) were undertaken with a broadly representative sample of 67 representatives across the three types of Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services; County, Combined, and Metropolitan (including officers and councillors). This sample size has a maximum standard error of +/-9.0 at the 95% level of confidence. Interviews took between 15 and 20 minutes and explored: the LGA s offer and current provision; its current role and priorities and how these can be developed; its communications and respondents preferred methods of engagement; and sector-led improvement within local government, the support offered by the LGA to assist its members in this and how it can be developed/improved. Findings This report provides a summary of the top-line frequencies and, where possible, comparisons to the LGA Perceptions Survey 2014 have been made to show where significant differences exist. Independent t-tests (within the groups of interest i.e. region) were conducted at the 95% confidence level to identify where findings were statistically 1

6 Customer Perceptions Survey 2015 Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services significant based upon role type (officer, councillor) and type of Fire and Rescue Authority or Service (County, Combined, Metropolitan). Views on the LGA and its services Knowledge of the LGA is high. Two thirds (66%) of survey respondents feel they know a fair amount about it ; with only a minority (10%) reporting that they know just a little about it. Over half (55%) of respondents report that they agree with the statement I understand the LGA s purpose and how it works for Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services a great deal, and just under two-fifths (39%) report that they agreed to some extent. The majority of survey respondents (79%) report that they would best be described as speaking positively about the LGA to others (either spontaneously or if asked). However, around one in ten (13%) report that they have no views one way or another on this question. Nearly two-thirds (64%) report that they are either fairly or very satisfied when asked how satisfied or dissatisfied they are with the work of the LGA on behalf of the Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services. Overall respondents tend to agree or strongly agree that the LGA is performing its key functions. Seven in ten (70%) agree that the LGA stands up for and defends the reputation of Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services, and the same proportion agree that the LGA is transparent and accountable to its members. Two-thirds (66%) agree that the LGA addresses the issues that are important to Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services. Nearly two-thirds agree that the LGA understands what Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services need to help improve their service and organisational capacity (63%); that the LGA effectively represents the views of its members to central government (63%); and that the LGA helps to set and drive improvement in the Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services (57%). 52% of respondents agreed that the LGA demonstrates value for money for the funding it receives, or is influential in shaping the agenda for Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services. The majority of respondents believe that based on their knowledge, the LGA had been an effective advocate for the interests of Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services a fair amount (57%) or a great deal (24%). When asked the extent to which they believe their authority or service benefits from its relationship with the LGA around a half of respondents (55%) reported a fair amount ; however, only 13% responded a great deal. Over three-quarters (78%) of respondents believe all the activities conducted by the LGA listed in the survey were either fairly important or very important. Respondents viewed Supporting and promoting Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services who are trying to transform services to better support their communities as a particularly important activity with 58% viewing it as very important. The activities respondents viewed as most important were Supporting and promoting Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services who are trying to transform services to better support their communities (4), followed by Bringing together of Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services for the Fire Commission. Overall, the majority of respondents believe all the services provided by the LGA are either fairly useful or very useful. Respondents Providing support for sector led 2

7 Executive summary improvement as a particularly useful service with 9 viewing it as a fairly or very useful service. The services respondents viewed as most useful include Negotiating national pay, terms and conditions (26%) and Lobbying on behalf of Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services (19%). Respondents were asked if they believe the LGA should be offering any additional services for Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services from a pre-coded list provided by the LGA. Respondents wanted to see the LGA providing More opportunities to lobby Ministers (85%), More active press work to raise issues at the national level (75%), and Greater access to bespoke support (70%). Views on LGA communications Overall, nearly two-thirds of respondents believe that the LGA keeps them either fairly well informed (33%) or very well informed (30%) about their work. However, just under a third report that the LGA Gives me only a limited amount of information (27%). Respondents report that they find out about the LGA s work in a range of ways. In particular respondents report that they find out about the LGA s work through the quarterly fire bulletin (78%), events and conferences (76%), first magazine (69%) and the publications (67%). When asked how they would prefer to find out about the work of the LGA the most frequently requested methods are through the LGA Chairman s weekly (24%) and the LGA website (15%). Overall nearly two-thirds of respondents (65%) reported that they are fairly or very engaged with the LGA. Over a third (34%) of respondents report that they were either not very engaged or not at all engaged with the LGA. Methods of engagement with the LGA that are most frequently mentioned included: responding to LGA consultations (78%) and attending LGA events (72%). When asked how they would prefer to engage with the LGA respondents report a range of preferences; however, the most frequent methods reported are through contacting LGA officers by or phone (48%) and by attending LGA events and conferences (27%). Nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents could think of a time in the last two years when they believed the LGA had engaged or involved them in a way they really liked. Respondents reported numerous ways in which they liked being engaged by the LGA, including through conferences/events (38%), through operational assessments and the peer review process (27%), and through face-to-face meetings (23%). Views on sector-led improvement Over three-quarters (78%) of respondents report that they have either heard a lot or heard a moderate amount about sector-led improvement. The vast majority (99%) report that they strongly agree or agree that my authority/service is making advances in driving improvement. The majority (87%) report that they strongly agree or agree that the approach to sector-led improvement is the right approach in the current context. The vast majority (97%) of respondents are confident that their authority has the capacity to monitor its own performance and continuously improve either to a moderate extent or to a great extent. 3

8 Customer Perceptions Survey 2015 Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services Over two-thirds (67%) of respondents are confident all Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services have the necessary skills and capacity to monitor their own performance and continuously improve either to a moderate extent or to a great extent. Respondents have the most awareness of: Provision of an Operational Assessment and fire peer challenge, at no cost (63% of respondents report that they have heard a lot about this resource) and Member training and development (77% of respondents report that they have heard a moderate amount or heard a lot about this resource). Respondents have the least awareness of the resource providing Access to the LG Inform data service (58% of respondents reported that they had heard nothing or heard a little about this resource). The vast majority (94%) of respondents agree or strongly agree that all authorities/services should be expected to have a corporate peer challenge at least every four years. 93% agree that the LGA should place a stronger emphasis on supporting and fostering innovation across the sector, and just under three-quarters (72%) agree that the LGA should be more challenging with authorities/services about their performance. Conclusions Similarly to councils there is a high level of awareness amongst Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services of the LGA and the work it undertakes on their behalf. Nearly three-quarters of respondents report that they would best be described as speaking positively about the LGA. Satisfaction with the LGA s work on behalf of Fire and Rescue Authorities is also high with nearly two-thirds being satisfied to some extent; however, this is lower than the levels of satisfaction in councils. As with councils, the services and roles delivered by the LGA that were perceived to be of the most importance to respondents tended to be related to the national role the LGA has in lobbying on behalf of the sector and its members of staff. The additional service most Fire and Rescue Services and Authorities want the LGA to develop, if their corporate offer was extended, was developing opportunities to lobby ministers. Although a high proportion of respondents believe the LGA keeps them very well informed about their work, a higher proportion of those from Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services believe that the LGA gives them only a limited amount of information or that they are not told much at all when compared with councils. There is a very high level of awareness of the sector-led improvement approach and this is higher than in councils. Respondents are confident to some extent in their Fire and Rescue Authority/Service s and the wider sector s capacity to monitor their own performance and to continuously improve. More than two-thirds of respondents were likely to agree to some extent that: all authorities/services should be expected to have a corporate peer challenge at least every four years; the LGA should place a stronger emphasis on supporting and fostering innovation across the sector; and the LGA should be more challenging with authorities/services about their performance. 4

9 Introduction 1 Introduction 1.1 Background BMG Research has prepared this report for the Local Government Association (LGA) in order to summarise the findings from the Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services Perceptions Survey The LGA works with the fire and rescue sector to represent them on a wide range of issues from pensions and industrial relations through to local government resources. The benefits of LGA membership for Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services include: access to the four political groups at the LGA who influence, liaise and network with government, shadow teams and party administrations; the Fire Services Management Committee which leads policy development and improvement work and lobbies Government on specific issues; representation through the Fire Commission for all Fire and Rescue Authorities which provides an important forum for discussion and opportunity for all Chairs and Portfolio Holders to discuss matters of common concern, share ideas and exchange good practice; appointments to specialist working groups such as the Firefighters Pensions Committee, the Strategic Resilience Board, and the Fire Service College Customer Advisory Board; access to a single point of contact (Account Manager) at senior management level for all Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services to discuss issues of concern, provide support on individual issues, and to signpost to other expert organisations; access to an induction to LGA structures, regular communications, website access, access to the LGA s social media, including a fire and rescue specific Knowledge Hub and twitter feed, and discounted attendance at LGA events and conferences including the annual LGA Fire Conference and Exhibition; various opportunities to receive improvement support through peer challenge, and leadership programmes as well as access to data through LG Inform; support in meeting a range of workforce challenges including driving productivity, service transformation, modernising pay, as well as providing advice, guidance and inhouse consultancy; LGA provision of secretariat service to the Employers Sides of the National Joint Councils for Grey Book staff and Brigade Managers; and access to LGA facilities such as informal meeting spaces and free room hire at Local Government House. The LGA Perceptions Survey has been delivered amongst representatives from Local Authorities since In the context of reduced council budgets and increased public demand and expectations for services, the survey is a key measure of: the extent to which councils understand and engage with the LGA and its offer; how they view the LGA and engage with their communications; and specifically their views on and experiences of the support and resources it offers relating to sector-led improvement. 5

10 Customer Perceptions Survey 2015 Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services In December 2014 the LGA chose to extend the survey for the first time to specifically include representation of members from Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services with sufficient coverage to ensure findings could be analysed based on these as a standalone group. 1.2 Objectives This research aims to: 1. Quantify members' understanding of the LGA and what the LGA currently offers. This includes an examination of awareness levels, knowledge of and favourability towards the LGA, including channels of awareness and understanding, functions perceived to be part of the LGA s remit, and how effective the LGA is seen at fulfilling these functions. This research examines views of the LGA as an organisation and its role and priorities; views on its current provision; and views on its communications and methods of engagement. 2. Investigate what the membership want from the LGA and how they want to engage. This aspect provides feedback on a strategic level in terms of the organisation s role and responsibilities but also on a tactical level in terms of formats and channels preferred e.g. the extent to which communications have been digitalised. 3. Assess views of sector-led improvement within local government, and views on support offered by the LGA to assist its members in this. The research identifies areas where the LGA might enhance its support in this area, by investigating the membership s preferences and experiences of support and by unpicking the impact that such support has had, by asking respondents to reflect on the impacts of their engagement with the LGA and the resources it provides to support sector-led improvement. These findings are compared with the LGA Perceptions Survey 2014 for councils to identify the key differences and requirements of Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services. 1.3 Method The Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services Perceptions Survey 2015 was delivered using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI). A CATI approach was chosen as it offers the most neutral (and least self-selecting) method of interviewing which reduces the risk that bias may be introduced through web-based preferences for engagement if conducting the survey online. An introductory was sent to contacts by BMG to invite them to take part in the research. As standard contacts were called up to 10 times before being logged as a nonresponse; however, in some cases contacts were called in excess of 10 times if appointments or call-backs were arranged. Interviews took between 15 and 20 minutes. The survey was designed by the LGA in partnership with BMG Research and in most cases retained the questions and wording from the LGA Perceptions Survey 2014 to ensure comparability between the two surveys. However, some amendments were made to reflect the more specific experiences of Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services. Three cognitive 6

11 Introduction interviews were undertaken ahead of the start of fieldwork to ensure representatives from Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services felt the questions, options, and statements used reflected their experiences and the terminology used, and also that the questions were accessible and did not use any potentially confusing or contradictory language. The final questionnaire explored: the LGA s offer and current provision; its current role and priorities and how these can be developed; its communications and respondents preferred methods of engagement; and sector-led improvement within local government, the support offered by the LGA to assist its members in this and how it can be developed/improved. Prior to launching the survey a CATI pilot was conducted with 5 respondents to ensure the survey was fit for purpose and would not last longer than the agreed length of 20 minutes. No issues were identified relating to respondents' understanding of the survey content. The survey subsequently took place between the 27 th January and 19 th February Sampling Due to the finite number of contacts available from Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services for this survey (153 contacts were provided, including 89 officers and 64 councillors), it was established that the sample should be maximised. This meant several interviews were undertaken within the same Fire and Rescue Authority or Service, if respondents were willing, to ensure a good range of views were captured at both officer and councillor level. The most interviews conducted within one local authority was 4. A total of 67 individuals completed the survey giving a response rate of 44%. This sample size has a maximum standard error of +/-9.0 at the 95% level of confidence. Table 1 provides a breakdown of responses by role type and type of Fire and Rescue Authority or Service. Table 1: Completed interviews Category Role type Number of respondents % of respondents Officer 27 40% Councillor 40 60% Type of Fire and Rescue Authority or Service County 20 30% Combined 39 58% Metropolitan (including London) 8 12% Only 8 of the 46 Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services for which contacts were provided did not have any officers or councillors respond to the survey. 7

12 Customer Perceptions Survey 2015 Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services Where there were refusals to take part reasons for this included those outlined in Table 2. Table 2: Reasons for refusal Reason for refusal % No time/too busy 40% Don t do surveys 2% No interest in helping LGA 4% Other 1 54% Total 100 Following this, all individuals agreeing to take part in the survey were asked how well they know the LGA. None of these individuals had never heard of the LGA; however, 1 reported that they had heard of but know nothing about it. As such this respondent was not asked to continue with the survey as some knowledge of the LGA s role was necessary to answer subsequent questions. 1.5 Analytical approach This report provides a summary of the top-line frequencies and, where possible, comparisons to the LGA Perceptions Survey 2014 have been made to show where significant differences exist. Differences are only discussed in this report where these are significant. Independent t-tests (within the groups of interest i.e. region) were conducted at the 95% confidence level to identify where findings were statistically significant based upon role type (officer, councillor) and type of Fire and Rescue Authority or Service (County, Combined, Metropolitan). However, due to the bases involved and a high level of uniformity in responses no significant differences were found within these groups and are therefore not reported further. Full tables showing crosstabulations by role and Fire and Rescue Authority or Service type have been provided to the LGA separately. 1.6 Report structure Following this introduction the report is structured as follows: Chapter 2 presents findings relating to respondents understanding of the LGA and its services, and requirements for further services; Chapter 3 provides analysis of the respondents views on communications with the LGA; Chapter 4 provides analysis of respondents views on sector-led improvement; and Chapter 5 highlights the key findings and conclusions from this research. 1 Other reasons for not taking part in the survey included personal reasons and not wanting to take part in this survey at this point. 8

13 Views on the LGA and its services 2 Views on the LGA and its services 2.1 Knowledge of the LGA All survey respondents had some knowledge of the LGA, as members who reported that they had no knowledge at all were not asked to take part in the full survey. When asked how well they know the LGA, two-thirds (66%) of survey respondents, felt they know a fair amount about it and over a fifth (22%) felt they know a great deal about it. The proportion of those from Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services who knew either a fair amount or a great deal was higher than councils (88% compared with 73% respectively). Only a minority (10%) felt they know just a little about it, which is a lower proportion than councils (27%). Figure 1: How well would you say you know the LGA? Would you say that you FRA/S (67) 22% 66% 10% LGA (821) 17% 56% 27% Know a great deal about it Know just a little about it Know a fair amount about it Heard of but know nothing about it Bases in parentheses, Single response question Source: Telephone survey of LGA members 9

14 Customer Perceptions Survey 2015 Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services 2.2 Understanding of the purpose of the LGA Respondents were asked the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with the statement I understand the LGA s purpose and how it works for Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services. Over half (55%) reported that they agreed a great deal, just under two-fifths (39%) agreed to some extent, whilst only a small proportion did not agree very much (6%). These findings are similar to the proportion of councils who agreed or disagreed with the statement I understand the LGA s purpose and how it works for local government (43% reported that they agreed a great deal, 49% agreed to some extent, 6% did not agree very much, and 6% did not agree). Figure 2: To what extent do you agree or disagree with the statement I understand the LGA s purpose and how it works for Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services? FRA/S (67) 55% 39% 6% LGA (821) 43% 49% 6% A great deal To some extent Not very much Don't know Base=67, Single response question Source: Telephone survey of LGA members 10

15 Views on the LGA and its services 2.3 Discussing the LGA with others Over three-quarters of survey respondents (79%) reported that they would best be described as speaking positively about the LGA to others (either spontaneously or if asked). This is a similar proportion to councils (72%). Only 7% of respondents reported that they would best be described as speaking negatively about the LGA to others, which again is similar to councils (5%), while around one in ten (13%) reported neutrality on this question (compared with 23% of councils). Figure 3: Which of these phrases best describes the way you would speak of the LGA to other people? FRA/S (67) 25% 54% 13% 4% 3% LGA (821) 19% 53% 23% 4% I speak positively about the Local Government Association without being asked I speak positively about the Local Government Association if I am asked about it I have no views one way or another I speak negatively about the Local Government Association if I am asked about it I speak negatively about the Local Government Association without being asked Bases in parentheses, Single response question Source: Telephone survey of LGA members *denotes less than 0.5% 11

16 Customer Perceptions Survey 2015 Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services 2.4 Satisfaction with the work of the LGA on behalf of the sector When asked how satisfied or dissatisfied they were with the work of the LGA on behalf of the Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services, nearly two-thirds (64%) were either fairly or very satisfied. This is lower when compared with how satisfied or dissatisfied councils were with the work of the LGA on their behalf (75% were either fairly or very satisfied). Only 10% of respondents reported being fairly dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the work of the LGA on behalf of Fire and Rescue Authorities and Service which is similar to councils in this respect (7% reported being fairly dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the work of the LGA on behalf of the local government sector). Figure 4: Overall, how satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the work of the LGA on behalf of Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services? FRA/S 24% 40% 25% 9% LGA 18% 57% 17% 6% Very satisfied Fairly satisfied Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied Fairly dissatisfied Very dissatisfied Don't know / No opinion Bases in parentheses, Single response question Source: Telephone survey of LGA members *denotes less than 0.5% 12

17 Views on the LGA and its services 2.5 LGA capabilities The majority of respondents agreed with statements regarding whether the LGA are performing a range of functions. They are particularly likely to agree that the LGA stands up for and defends the reputation of Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services (70% agree/strongly agree), that it is transparent and accountable to its members (70%), and that the LGA addresses the issues that are important to Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services (66%). Nearly two-thirds of respondents agreed that the LGA understands what Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services need to help them improve their services and organisational capacity (63%); effectively represents the views of its members to central government (63%); and helps to set and drive improvement in the Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services (57%). More than half of respondents (52%) agree that the LGA demonstrates value for money for the funding it receives whilst nearly a third (30%) neither agree or disagree with this statement. Similarly, more than half (52%) agree the LGA is influential in shaping the agenda for Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services. 13

18 Customer Perceptions Survey 2015 Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services Figure 5: To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements about the LGA...? addresses the issues that are important to Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services 19% 46% 19% 9% 6% understands what Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services need to help them improve their services and organisational capacity 19% 43% 15% 15% 7% demonstrates value for money for the funding it receives % 12% 4% is influential in shaping the agenda for Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services 12% 40% 15% 25% 7% stands up for and defends the reputation of Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services 19% 5 18% 4% 6% effectively represents the views of its members to central government 15% 48% 13% 18% 3% 3% helps to set and drive improvement in Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services 16% 40% 2 16% 6% is transparent and accountable to its members 27% 43% 13% 3% 10% 3% Strongly agree Tend to agree Neither agree nor disagree Tend to disagree Strongly disagree Don t know Base = 67, Single response question Source: Telephone survey of LGA members 14

19 Views on the LGA and its services 2.6 Extent to which the LGA been an effective advocate for the interests of the sector The majority of respondents believed that, based on their knowledge, the LGA had been an effective advocate for the interests of Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services a fair amount (57%) or a great deal (24%). This is similar to the extent to which councils believe the LGA has been an effective advocate on their behalf (59% believed this a fair amount and 23% believed this a great deal ). Under a fifth of respondents believed the LGA had been an effective advocate for the interests of Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services not very much (18%) or not at all (). Figure 6: Based on what you know, to what extent, if at all, has the LGA been an effective advocate for the interests of Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services? FRA/S 24% 57% 18% LGA 23% 59% 14% 2% 3% A great deal A fair amount Not very much Not at all Don t know Bases=67, Single response question Source: Telephone survey of LGA members 15

20 Customer Perceptions Survey 2015 Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services 2.7 Benefits of relationship with the LGA When asked the extent to which they believed their authority or service benefited from its relationship with the LGA around half (55%) reported a fair amount and 13% responded a great deal. This is a similar proportion to councils (5 reported they benefit a fair amount and 15% reported they benefit a great deal ). Less than a third (28%) of respondents from Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services believed they benefited not very much from their relationship with the LGA and only 3% responded not at all, again this is similar to councils (22% and 3% respectively). Figure 7: To what extent would you say your authority/service benefits from its relationship with the LGA? FRA/S (67) 13% 55% 28% 3% LGA (821) 15% 5 22% 3% 5% 5% A great deal Not very much Doesn t really have a relationship A fair amount Not at all Don t know Bases in parentheses, Single response question Source: Telephone survey of LGA members 16

21 Views on the LGA and its services Respondents who reported that their authority or service benefited not at all or not very much (3) were asked why they believed this was the case. Their responses are summarised in Figure 8, with the most frequently cited reasons being that they do not believe the LGA is relevant to them/meets their requirements, or because they are not aware of any contact, or of their authority/service s relationship status with the LGA (19% respectively). Figure 8: You said your authority/service benefits not very much or not at all from its relationship with LGA. Why do you say that? Not relevant / doesn t meet requirements / needs Personally unaware of contact /relationship status 19% 19% Can only represents majority interests/views (i.e. can t represent everybody s / minority views) Not effective in addressing issues / representing us No/ limited evidence (inc. awareness of evidence) Have limited communication / contact from them 14% 14% 14% 14% Lacks influence in government/council decisions 10% Not part of my job to deal with them 5% We don t actively use service/much 5% Other 14% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% Base = 21, Open response question, coded Source: Telephone survey of LGA 17

22 Customer Perceptions Survey 2015 Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services 2.8 Activities conducted by the LGA Over three-quarters (78%) of respondents believed that all of the four activities conducted by the LGA and listed in the survey are important to their authority or the sector; this compares with at least 90% of councils for similar activities. Providing support and challenge for Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services to improve and Supporting and promoting Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services who are trying to transform services to better support their communities were seen as the most important activities (88% of respondents rated these both as either fairly or very important); these were followed by Bringing together of Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services for the Fire Commission (8); and finally, Providing a single voice for Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services (78%). Figure 9: I am going to read out a list of activities conducted by the LGA. For each, I would like you to tell me whether they are important or not to your authority/service or the sector. Providing a single voice for Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services 39% 39% 16% 3% 3% Providing support and challenge for Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services to improve 5 37% 12% Supporting and promoting Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services who are trying to transform services to better support their communities 58% 30% 7% 3% Bringing together of Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services for the Fire Commission 5 30% 10% 4% 4% Very important Fairly important Not very important Not at all important Don't know Base = 67, Single response question Source: Telephone survey of LGA members Respondents who selected more than one of these activities as very important were asked which they saw as most important and these results were combined with those who had selected only one activity as very important. The activity respondents viewed as most important was Supporting and promoting Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services who are trying to transform services to better support their communities (4), followed by Bringing together of Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services for the Fire Commission (24%). Less than a fifth believed Providing a single voice for Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services or Providing 18

23 Views on the LGA and its services support and challenge for Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services to improve to be the most important roles (17% respectively). 2.9 Services provided by the LGA The majority of respondents believe that all of a range of services provided by the LGA, as specified in Figure 10, are either fairly or very useful. Providing support for sector led improvement is considered particularly useful with 9 considering it a fairly or very useful service. Providing advice and information through the political group offices was the service most likely to be considered not very or not at all useful (28%). Figure 10: Now I am going to read a list of services provided by the LGA. For each, please could you tell me whether they are useful or not to your authority/service? Lobbying on behalf of Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services 45% 37% 10% 4% 3% Providing support for sector led improvement 36% 55% 7% Providing a range of online tools to help sector led improvement 19% 48% 2 4% 7% Providing advice and information through the political group offices 39% 25% 24% 4% 7% Providing legal advice and coordination of legal action for Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services 36% 43% 9% 10% Providing up-to-date information about local government and Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services 40% 37% 18% 3% Providing conferences and events 39% 46% 13% Negotiating national pay, terms and conditions 48% 33% 13% 4% Providing employment advice 30% 46% 15% 7% Very useful Fairly useful Not very useful Not at all useful Don t know Base = 67, Single response question Source: Telephone survey of LGA members 19

24 Customer Perceptions Survey 2015 Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services Respondents who selected more than one of these activities as very useful were asked which they saw as most useful and these results were combined with those who had selected only one activity as very useful. The activity respondents viewed as most useful was Negotiating national pay, terms and conditions (26%), and Lobbying on behalf of Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services (19%). Respondents were least likely to rate Providing legal advice and co-ordination of legal action for Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services (6%) or Providing employment advice (4%) as the most useful service. Figure 11: Of the services you mentioned as very useful, which one would you say is the most useful of these? 26% 19% 13% 1 1 9% 6% 4% 2% Negotiating national pay, terms and conditions Lobbying on behalf of Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services Providing advice and information through the political group offices Providing support for sector led improvement (for example, peer challenges and mentoring, support for leadership, workforce management and productivity) Providing up-to-date information about local government and Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services (for example,'first' magazine, e-bulletins and website) Providing conferences and events Providing legal advice and co-ordination of legal action for Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services (for example on retained firefighters pensions) Providing employment advice Don't know Base = 67, Single response question Source: Telephone survey of LGA members 20

25 Views on the LGA and its services 2.10 Developing an additional offer Respondents were all asked if they believe the LGA should be offering any additional services for Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services from a pre-coded list provided by the LGA. If the corporate offer was extended, respondents wanted to see the LGA providing More opportunities to lobby Ministers (85%), More active press work to raise issues at the national level (75%), and Greater access to bespoke support (70%). Over half (52%) of respondents also wanted to see More regional events and seminars. Only 3% of respondents did not want to receive any additional services. Only three respondents noted other services they would like to see, these included: Elected members should be given the opportunity to join the local pension scheme which was abolished last year. Councillors should be made aware of what the LGA are doing at the moment. More opportunities to network with colleagues. Of those that were selected, respondents most wanted to see More opportunities to lobby Ministers (47%), followed by More regional events and seminars (27%), Greater access to bespoke support (15%), and More active press work to raise issues at the national level (8%). 21

26 Customer Perceptions Survey 2015 Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services 3 Views on LGA communications 3.1 Attitudes and preferences for LGA communications Overall, nearly two-thirds of respondents believe that the LGA keeps them at least fairly well informed about their work (63%; 33% fairly and 30% very). However, the proportion who believe they are fairly informed is lower than in councils (48%). As such a higher proportion of those from Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services believe that the LGA only gives them a limited amount of information (27% compared with 16% of councils), or that they are not told much at all (10% compared with 4% of councils). Figure 12: How well informed, if at all, do you think the LGA keeps you about its work? FRA/S (67) 30% 33% 27% 10% LGA (821) 3 48% 16% 4% Very well informed Fairly well informed Gives me only a limited amount of information Bases in parentheses, Single response question Source: Telephone survey of LGA members *denotes less than 0.5% Doesn't tell me much at all about what it does 22

27 Views on LGA communications Respondents reported that they find out about the work of the LGA in a range of different ways as shown in Figure 13. The quarterly fire bulletin is most frequently mentioned (78% of all respondents), then through events and conferences (76%). Other important sources of information include first magazine (69%), publications (67%), and the LGA s media work and press releases (66%). Figure 13: How do you generally find out about the work of the LGA? Quarterly fire bulletin Events and conferences 'first' magazine Publications (for example 'AnyFire'' booklets) Media work/press releases 78% 76% 69% 67% 66% LGA website Direct contact, e.g. with your principal advisor, account manager, and/or the fire policy team Regular HR circulars 52% 58% 57% Parliamentary bulletin Political group offices e-bulletin LGA Chairman's weekly Access to Knowledge Hub LGA Chief Executive's first online' Social media (for example Twitter) 42% 36% 3 25% 25% 2 19% Base = 67, Multiple response question Source: Telephone survey of LGA members Comms Net Can't recall Other 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 23

28 Customer Perceptions Survey 2015 Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services In terms of how respondents would prefer to find out about the work of the LGA, the LGA Chairman s weekly (24%) features most prominently, followed by the LGA website (15%). Figure 14: How would you prefer to find out about the work of the LGA? LGA Chairman's weekly 24% LGA website 15% Direct contact, e.g. with your principal advisor, account manager, and/or the fire policy team' Events and conferences 9% 9% Quarterly fire bulletin 7% LGA Chief Executive's 4% Social media (for example Twitter) Access to Knowledge Hub 'first' magazine Other 25% Don't know 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% Base = 67, Single response question, other responses were not specified Source: Telephone survey of LGA members 24

29 Views on LGA communications 3.2 Level of engagement with the LGA Over a third of all respondents (34%) reported that they are either not very engaged (27%) or not at all engaged (7%) with the LGA. This is a lower proportion than councils, of whom a half (50%) felt they were not very engaged or not at all engaged. Over a half of respondents (52%) reported that they are fairly engaged with the LGA, and 13% very engaged. Figure 15: How engaged do you feel you are with the LGA? FRA/S (67) 13% 52% 27% 7% LGA (821) 8% 43% 37% 12% Very engaged Fairly engaged Not very engaged Not at all engaged Bases in parentheses, Single response question Source: Telephone survey of LGA members 25

30 Customer Perceptions Survey 2015 Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services 3.3 How do authorities/services engage with the LGA Respondents reported a range of ways that they engage with the LGA. Methods of engagement that were most frequently mentioned included: responding to LGA consultations (78%), attending LGA events (72%), contributing in LGA meetings/seminars (66%), and contacting LGA officers by or phone (57%). Figure 16: By what means do you engage with the LGA? Responding to LGA consultations Attending LGA events and conferences Contributing in LGA meetings/seminars 66% 72% 78% Contacting LGA officers by or phone Direct contact, e.g. with your principal advisor, account manager, and/or the fire policy team' Visits from LGA councillors and staff to your Fire and Rescue service Contacting councillors/boards by or phone Through the political group offices Acting as an LGA peer or supporting LGA development programmes When contacted by LGA officers or in your role as an advisor 57% 5 48% 45% 43% 42% 42% Contributing via Knowledge Hub Other 10% 15% Base = 67, Multiple response question, See Appendix 1 for others Source: Telephone survey of LGA members 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 26

31 Views on LGA communications When asked how they would prefer to engage with the LGA, respondents were most likely to specify contacting LGA officers by or phone (48%), or by attending LGA events and conferences (27%). Figure 17: By what means would you prefer to engage with the LGA? Contacting LGA officers by or phone 48% Attending LGA events and conferences Direct contact, e.g. with your principal advisor, account manager, and/or the fire policy team Forums/meeting/briefings Contacting councillors/boards by or phone Visits from LGA councillors and staff to your Fire and Rescue services Contributing in LGA meetings/seminars Via the internet/website/lga website Through the political group offices Peer Review Publications Postal/letters Social media (Facebook/Twitter) Acting as an LGA peer or supporting LGA development programmes Responding to LGA consultations Contributing via Knowledge Hub When contacted, by LGA officers or in your role as an advisor Other None No preference 12% 10% 10% 7% 7% 6% 6% 3% 3% 22% 27% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Base = 67, Single response question See Appendix 1 for others Source: Telephone survey of LGA members *denotes less than 0.5% 27

32 Customer Perceptions Survey 2015 Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services 3.4 Positive examples of engagement Nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents could think of a time in the last two years when they believed the LGA had engaged or involved them in a way they really liked. Respondents reported numerous ways in which they had liked being engaged by the LGA in the last two years, including: through conferences/events (38%); through operational assessments and the peer review process (27%); through face-to-face meetings (23%); through their involvement with various strikes/disputes (15%); through regular feedback and updates (13%); through pensions and financial advice (13%); and through visits from the chairman/councillors/fire commission (6%). 28

33 Views on sector-led improvement 4 Views on sector-led improvement 4.1 Awareness of sector-led improvement Over half of the respondents (52%) reported that they have heard a lot about sector-led improvement, whilst a quarter (25%) have heard a moderate amount. The proportion who have heard a lot about sector-led improvement is higher than in councils where only a fifth (19%) had heard a lot about it. Around a fifth of respondents (19%) have heard a little, while only 3% have heard nothing about sector-led improvement, a lower proportion than councils (22%). Figure 18: How much, if anything, have you heard about the sector-led improvement approach? FRA/S (67) 52% 25% 19% 3% LGA (821) 19% 23% 36% 22% Heard a lot Heard a moderate amount Heard a little Heard nothing Bases in parentheses, Single response question Source: Telephone survey of LGA members 29

34 Customer Perceptions Survey 2015 Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services Figure 19 shows the extent to which respondents agree or disagree with different statements relating to sector-led improvement. The majority of respondents (87%) agree that the approach to sector-led improvement is the right approach in the current context. This is higher than in councils, where 63% agree with this statement to some extent. The vast majority (99%) strongly agree or agree that my authority/service is making advances in driving improvement. This is again a higher proportion than in councils where 83% agree with this statement to some extent. Figure 19: Please indicate whether you agree or disagree with the following statements? The approach to sector-led improvement is the right approach in the current context 42% 45% 6% 7% My authority/service is making advances in driving improvement 78% 2 Strongly agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly disagree Don't know / No opinion Base = 67, Single response question Source: Telephone survey of LGA members 30

35 Views on sector-led improvement 4.2 Capacity for continuous improvement The vast majority of respondents (97%) were moderately confident (27%) or greatly confident (70%) that their authority/service has the capacity to monitor its own performance and continuously improve; this is higher than in councils, in which 83% were at least moderately confident of this. Figure 20: To what extent would you say you are confident that your own authority currently has the necessary skills and capacity to monitor its own performance and continuously improve? FRA/S (67) 70% 27% 3% LGA (821) 42% 40% 1 4% 2% To a great extent To a moderate extent To a small extent Not at all Don't know Bases in parentheses, Single response question Source: Telephone survey of LGA members 31

36 Customer Perceptions Survey 2015 Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services Over two-thirds of respondents (67%) are confident that all Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services have the necessary skills and capacity to monitor its own performance and continuously improve. This compares with 78% of those in councils believing this for their sector; however, a higher proportion of those from Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services were not sure about this (15% compared with 5% of councils). Figure 21: To what extent would you say you are confident that all Fire and Rescue Authorities/Services currently have the necessary skills and capacity to monitor their own performance and continuously improve? FRA/S (67) 15% 52% 12% 6% 15% LGA (821) 27% 5 13% 4% 5% To a great extent To a moderate extent To a small extent Not at all Don't know Bases in parentheses, Single response question Source: Telephone survey of LGA members 32

37 Views on sector-led improvement 4.3 Sources of support Respondents were most likely to have heard of the LGA s member training and development offer (93%) followed by their provision of an Operational Assessment and fire peer challenge at no cost (88%). However, respondents were more likely to have heard a lot about provision of Operational Assessment and fire peer challenge than member training and development (63% compared with 46%). Over a third (39%) of respondents had not heard of the access to the LG Inform data service, and over a quarter (28%) had not heard of the access to the Knowledge Hub. Figure 22: Which, if any, of the following elements of the LGA s offer have you heard about? Provision of an 'Operational Assessment' and fire peer challenge, at no cost 63% 19% 6% 12% 'Access to the Knowledge Hub, a resource to enable people from all parts of the public sector to work together and share experiences' 19% 30% 22% 28% ''Access to the LG Inform data service, to provide access to key data about the fire and rescue authority/service area, and allow benchmarking and comparisons with others'' 15% 27% 19% 39% 'Member training and development (for example, provision of subsidised places on the fire leadership essentials programme)' 46% 3 15% 7% Heard a lot Heard a moderate amount Heard a little Heard nothing Don t know Base=67, Multiple response question Source: Telephone survey of LGA members 33

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