Councils' poll hints at public's cuts priorities

Rubbish awaiting collection The poll put rubbish collections high on most people's spending priorities

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NHS managers, quangos and overseas aid would be among the public's top priorities for spending cuts, a poll carried out for councils suggests.

Street cleaning, care for the elderly and rubbish collections were the least popular areas for cuts identified by the survey of 2,000 people.

It was commissioned by the Local Government Association, which this week discusses how to make £1bn in savings.

International aid and health budgets are being protected by ministers.

Other departments have been asked to draw up plans showing how they would cut spending by both 25% and 40%, with the exception of defence and education which are being partially protected.

The government is planning the cuts in a bid to reduce the UK's £156bn annual budget deficit and it has invited the public to recommend where the axe should fall.

'Embarrassing'

More than two-thirds of those polled in the LGA survey said senior NHS officials should be targeted, closely followed by quangos - such as industry regulators - and foreign aid.

Graph showing overseas aid

BBC local government correspondent Greg Wood said the results would come as an embarrassment to the government, given its decision to ring-fence funding for aid.

The poll revealed that the services people regarded as "frontline" were police, fire and medical staff.

The LGA says housing, education, road safety, major transport projects and social cohesion programmes will be affected by £1.165bn in savings which the government is demanding of councils.

The body, which represents councils in England and Wales, will discuss how to tackle the spending reductions at its annual conference this week.

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