From 16 July to 14 August, we asked our local communities to tell us how COVID-19 had affected their lives and what they thought our priorities should be moving forward.

We'd like to thank the 1467 people who filled in the survey and 100 who took part in 8 virtual 'community conversations' focus groups. The views given will help build a stronger and more resilient Falkirk Council area.

    Key findings

    As a council, we want to create a greener and more economically vibrant area with healthier, stronger and more prosperous communities that are digitally enabled and empowered to make key decisions for themselves – and broadly speaking, you agree that's what we should be aiming for.

    From the results of both the survey and focus groups, you said we need to:

    • Simplify our priorities, as a number overlap
    • Help people to live their best lives – from supporting our most vulnerable to creating safe education and living environments
    • Treat communities equally and fairly and make them safe and sustainable places to live
    • Help businesses get back on track, create jobs and investment opportunities
    • Be more innovative and less bureaucratic in how we operate

    Background

    The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on our communities and economy, creating many financial and social challenges. It's also highlighted the good that can be achieved when the Council, its partners and residents work together towards a common goal – supporting and caring for those in need and delivering services essential to all.

    That partnership working needs to continue, as we look to create new and innovative ways to deliver services against an increasingly difficult financial backdrop. That is why this survey was launched - to strengthen ties and gather your views to inform our way forward.

    Next steps

    We asked. You responded. We listened and now need to act on what you have said. We'll do this by reviewing feedback to help:

    • Strengthen our priorities to ensure we are focusing on the right things
    • Shape our recovery by underpinning our Business Plan and Corporate plan, documents that will guide decision-making across the Council over the next 5 years
    • Support our services to review and improve day-to-day operations

    Survey results

      The impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic

      Respondents could choose more than one option, with almost half (49.8%) listing wellbeing and mental health as a concern closely followed (44.6%) by worry for their own or their family members future.

      What has affected you most during the COVID-19 Pandemic

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Worrying about my own or my family members future655
      Worrying about how to support friends and family who need help562
      Social isolation feeling lonely540
      Stress from working or learning at home469
      Worrying about health treatment needed416
      Worrying about job security, losing job or being furloughed398
      Stress from family members being at home more352
      Not feeling safe in my community305
      Finding it difficult to supporting others to learn at home303
      Loss of Income291
      Shielding206
      Lack of availability of daily essentials such as food, medicine204
      Pressure on how to learn at home with limited support179
      Lack of availability safety of public transport156
      Not having the right internet access or devices to work or learn online or access other services online145
      Other126
      Worrying about the future of my business108
      Worrying about housing issues or homelessness88
      Not feeling safe at home79

      Did you contact us for support with any of the issues listed above?

      The vast majority (90.9%) did not contact the Council for support.

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Yes132
      No1321

      Priority 1: People in our Communities are supported to live their lives well

      94.6% of respondents said this priority was very important or important to them.

      Respondents were asked to tell us how important all the services listed under priority 1 were to them. Response rates to very important and important were:

      • Supporting vulnerable children, young people and adults (94%)
      • Housing & Homelessness (85.4%)
      • Welfare benefits (76.1%)
      • Making our communities digitally enabled (73.7%)
      • Concession services (60.6%)

      Key points from the feedback given include:

      • Build resilience and capacity within communities
      • Communities do not want to be marginalised; they want fairness not favouritism
      • Strengthen digital access but not at the expense of other forms of communication
      • Invest in green spaces and safe and active travel options
      • Support the recovery of local business

      People in our communities are supported to live their lives well

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important962
      Important414
      Low importance36
      Not important16
      No opinion26

      This means that we will consider offering the following services to support people to live their lives well. Please tell us how important each of the following is to you:

      Housing and Homelessness

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important737
      Important507
      Low importance100
      Not important47
      No opinion65

      Welfare Benefits

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important567
      Important532
      Low importance188
      Not important76
      No opinion82

      Making our Communities Digitally Enabled

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important415
      Important657
      Low importance258
      Not important81
      No opinion43

      Supporting vulnerable Children, Young People and Adults

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important989
      Important382
      Low importance49
      Not important21
      No opinion18

      Concession services, such as Blue Badges, National Entitlement Card, Taxi Card

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important350
      Important532
      Low importance368
      Not important131
      No opinion75

      Priority 2: Enable everyone to fulfil their potential

      95.3% of respondents said this priority was very important or important to them.

      Respondents were asked to tell us how important all the services listed under priority 2 were to them. Response rates to very important and important were:

      • Creating safe education and living environments (96.8%)
      • Creating employment opportunities (95.6%)
      • Providing opportunities for young people, modern apprenticeships, higher and further education, training, voluntary work, employment (94.5%)
      • Providing services which support mental and physical wellbeing (94.1%)
      • Re-opening of our schools (90.2%)

      Key points from the feedback given include:

      • Greater resources in education
      • Enable third sector agencies and communities to support employment opportunities
      • Focus on early intervention for children and families in need of support
      • Encourage individual personal resilience
      • Provide opportunities for upskilling and support for older workforce facing redundancy not just young adults

      Enable everyone to fulfil their potential

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important864
      Important518
      Low importance40
      Not important10
      No opinion18

      This means that we will consider offering the following services to enable people to fulfil their potential. We asked how important each of the following was.

      Re-opening our schools

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important932
      Important389
      Low importance72
      Not important34
      No opinion37

      Creating safe education and living environments

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important1108
      Important303
      Low importance20
      Not important9
      No opinion18

      Creating employment opportunities

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important942
      Important455
      Low importance31
      Not important9
      No opinion24

      Providing services which support mental and physical wellbeing

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important943
      Important425
      Low importance57
      Not important11
      No opinion18

      Providing opportunities for young people, modern apprenticeships, higher and further education, training, voluntary work, employment

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important924
      Important455
      Low importance46
      Not important15
      No opinion20

      Priority 3: Help businesses to thrive and make the area more prosperous

      93.6% of respondents said this priority was very important or important to them.

      Respondents were asked to tell us how important all the services listed under priority 3 were to them. Response rates to very important and important were:

      • Supporting businesses, job creation and investment opportunities (92.8%)
      • Maintaining a good road network (89.5%)
      • Support and training for job seekers (88.3%)
      • Running sustainable public and active transport initiatives (including school transport) (86.4%)
      • Creating opportunities to do business with Falkirk Council (80.6%)

      Key points from the feedback given include:

      • Invest in safe active travel infrastructure
      • Sell or re-purpose empty council builds as they make the area look rundown
      • Support business with local grant schemes
      • Encourage people to use town centres more - open for events, community activities, coming together to network and support each other
      • Support infrastructure, roads, green spaces, keeping the area tidy
      • Cut bureaucracy and focus on good quality service delivery

      Helping businesses to thrive and make the area more prosperous

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important817
      Important537
      Low importance62
      Not important14
      No opinion17

      This means that we will consider offering the following services to help businesses to thrive and make the area more prosperous. We asked how important each of the following was.

      Supporting businesses, job creation and investment opportunities

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important772
      Important584
      Low importance61
      Not important17
      No opinion27

      Creating opportunities to do business with Falkirk Council

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important564
      Important615
      Low importance175
      Not important50
      No opinion58

      Support and training for job seekers

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important651
      Important634
      Low importance111
      Not important21
      No opinion38

      Maintaining a good road network

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important704
      Important601
      Low importance123
      Not important16
      No opinion14

      Running sustainable public and active transport initiatives (including school transport)

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important672
      Important588
      Low importance138
      Not important33
      No opinion28

      Priority 4: Enable and empower our communities to live healthier, safer and more sustainable lives

      93.7% of respondents said this priority was very important or important to them.

      Respondents were asked to tell us how important all the services listed under priority 4 were to them. Response rates to very important and important were:

      • Supporting attractive places to live with clean, open spaces (93.3%)
      • Involving communities in making council decision (91.8%)
      • Involving communities in participatory budgeting, where communities influence where money is spent (86.1%)
      • Housing and building repairs (85.4%)
      • Promoting energy efficiency and carbon reduction initiatives (78.5%)
      • Making our community facilities available for lets and potentially run by communities for communities (77.4%)

      Key points from the feedback given include:

      • Easy access financial support for community groups as they provide a tremendous bridge in mitigating cuts and offer real opportunities for communities to improve and grow
      • Educate/involve communities on council budget challenges
      • Participatory budgeting should mean communities participating and making informed choices on how the budgets are spent
      • Offer green spaces to communities to grow their own produce for their communities

      Enable and empower our communities to live healthier, safer and more sustainable lives

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important829
      Important529
      Low importance63
      Not important7
      No opinion22

      This means that we will consider offering the following services to help businesses to thrive and make the area more prosperous. We asked how important each of the following was.

      Involving communities in making council decisions

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important811
      Important530
      Low importance79
      Not important24
      No opinion17

      Involving communities in participatory budgeting, where communities influence where money is spent

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important684
      Important571
      Low importance131
      Not important45
      No opinion26

      Making our community facilities available for lets and potentially run by communities for communities

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important587
      Important549
      Low importance210
      Not important47
      No opinion59

      Promoting energy efficiency and carbon reduction initiatives

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important609
      Important534
      Low importance222
      Not important52
      No opinion39

      Supporting attractive places to live with clean, open spaces

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important858
      Important500
      Low importance66
      Not important7
      No opinion24

      Housing & Building repairs

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important677
      Important565
      Low importance139
      Not important43
      No opinion37

      Priority 5: Become an innovative and entrepreneurial council, providing effective leadership to help transform outcomes

      84.4% of respondents said this priority was very important or important to them.

      Respondents were asked to tell us how important all the services listed under priority 5 were to them. Response rates to very important and important were:

      • A review of council owned assets (85.2%)
      • Services that support communities to do more for themselves (77.1%)
      • More digital and online services (77%)
      • Using schools as 'community hubs' for other services to be delivered (71.4%)

      Key points from the feedback given include:

      • Reduce the number of buildings and ensure access to services can be achieved online
      • Review council resources and use them more effectively and efficiently
      • Ensure resources remain for those who can't access online services e.g. elderly, homeless, or vulnerable people
      • Co-location of services to help reduce building costs and promote social cohesion within communities

      Becoming an innovative and entrepreneurial council, providing effective leadership to help transform outcomes

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important627
      Important593
      Low importance138
      Not important32
      No opinion55

      This means that we will consider offering the following services in ways that are innovative and entrepreneurial to help transform outcomes. We asked how important each of the following was.

      More digital and online services

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important430
      Important693
      Low importance240
      Not important59
      No opinion36

      Services that support communities to do more for themselves

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important453
      Important664
      Low importance224
      Not important47
      No opinion60

      Using schools as 'community hubs' for other services to be delivered eg health, leisure, advice services

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important484
      Important552
      Low importance230
      Not important127
      No opinion57

      A review of Council owned assets e.g. buildings to make sure they meet community needs and that they are affordable

      ChoiceNumber of responses
      Very important679
      Important562
      Low importance135
      Not important44
      No opinion36

      Community Conversations

      Background

      Community Conversations were held to help us better understand the attitudes, feelings, beliefs, experiences and reactions of service users and potential customers, giving us firsthand feedback from a cross-section of our communities.

      Community Conversations were attended by representatives from:

      • Falkirk Parent Forum
      • Community groups
      • Third Sector & charities
      • Communities representing equalities
      • Service and School Improvement
      • Falkirk Council

      During these virtual focus groups representatives were asked three set questions:

      • What are the most important things you need the Council to do in the next 6 to 18 months?
      • What can the Council do different/stop doing?
      • How are these reflected in the Council priorities?

      Community Conversation Summary (listed by priority)

        People in our communities are supported to live their lives well

        • Help people to live their best lives – be all they can be.
        • The challenges of lockdown. The Council needs to find ways to listen to the community.
        • Make all services available online.

        Enable Everyone to fulfil their potential

        • Make sure the most vulnerable people get help – support with poverty, food, gas and electricity.
        • Communities to have equal access to services and opportunities – including health and wellbeing and digital services.
        • Keep schools open and safe.
        • Help our communities become more digitally enabled – digital is a basic utility now.

        Help Business Thrive and make Falkirk more prosperous

        • Get businesses back on track.
        • Help people train / re-train for jobs.
        • Help with job creation.
        • Make sure investment zone projects meet people's needs.
        • Help town centre regeneration.
        • Tackle transport issues & support access routes for cycle travel.
        • Improve environmental sustainability and support climate change initiatives.
        • Make change happen & make decision making transparent. (eg planning).
        • Take ideas from the public on how to save money by being more efficient.

        Working with communities to be healthier, safer and more sustainable

        • Communication – and listening – needs to improve between Council & Communities.
        • Speak to people in plain simple terms.
        • Community Conversations – follow is important try eg a "you said, we did" approach to show
        • Progress with participatory budgeting for communities to make decisions for themselves.
        • Communities are ready to work more as partners and become more involved in decision making eg Participatory Budgeting.
        • Communities can be more than just consultative groups. They can be treated as partners and as equal stakeholders.
        • Community groups, charities and third sector are ready to do more – Council doesn’t need to do everything it did before lockdown from providing support to grass cutting.
        • Our communities need to be sustainable.
        • Ask communities what facilities they need.
        • Improve joint working between key partners eg Police, Falkirk Council, Social Work, Housing Officers and Resolution Team.
        • Does Falkirk Council need to do everything? Others can deliver services (front and back office) on their behalf to make sure people get the best support possible.

        An innovative and Entrepreneurial Council

        • Simplify the priorities so we know what Council is aiming for.
        • We don’t expect the Council to be perfect – but it needs to be more innovative and have less bureaucratic ways of working. Be open to ideas.
        • Improve web pages. Improve pages for communities so that people know what’s happening and being discussed in eg Community Council or from other groups.
        • Be open to letting Partners sit in shared space – once appropriate – and create common virtual platforms for engagement.