Press Release

Council tax trumps national issues for Londoners voting in local elections while LTNs are less important, new polling reveals

Londoners see council tax, national issues and social care as the top priorities influencing their vote ahead of May’s local elections, according to new survey data published today by Centre for London.

The survey is the latest issue of the Snapshot of Londoners, by Centre for London in partnership with Savanta. It was undertaken from 23 February to 7 March 2022. The previous survey was undertaken in May 2021.

The survey, which asked 1,549 Londoners to pick the top three biggest priorities that will shape their decision at the ballot box in May, found that:

  • Level of council tax ranked as the top local election priority for Londoners (46 per cent), higher than national issues (34 per cent) and quality of local social care services (30 per cent), when asked to select their top 3 priorities.
  • This prominence of council tax as a priority amongst respondents rose in line with working age, peaking with the 55-64 age group. Compared to the wider population, the top 3 priorities of this age group in order were council tax (56 per cent), refuse and recycling collection services (34 per cent) and the state of roads alongside quality of social care services tied in third (29 per cent each).
  • Council tax also ranked highest in Londoners’ list of vote-influencing issues irrespective of party political preferences.
  • Seen as the least likely to be a top 3 priority was the implementation of traffic control measures which restrict car usage and promote more cycling. Just 12 per cent considered this to be a key factor in their vote, although this also fluctuated based on political preference. Supporters of the Green Party were likelier to see this as an important issue (18 per cent), in comparison to Labour (11 per cent) and Conservative (12 per cent) counterparts.

Responding to these findings, Nick Bowes, Chief Executive of Centre for London said:

“However hard local parties campaign on local issues, council elections have never just been about bin collections, parking, schools and potholes. Often they become a proxy for a referendum on the party in government nationally. That’s why our polling is fascinating, as it shows Londoners place the most significance on how much council tax they pay when it comes to who they’ll vote for in the coming elections in May.

“It is also a stark reminder of how many people are feeling the squeeze on their incomes because of the sharp rise in the cost of living. London’s poorest households already face the increasing cost of heating their homes and travelling around the city, with rising council tax clearly at the forefront of people’s minds.

“Low-traffic neighbourhoods and other pro walking and cycling measures have been a highly polarising topic, albeit one which our polling indicates doesn’t appear to hold much overall sway on how people will be voting. Whether this is reflected in results on the day will be a key factor in whether local authorities feel emboldened to press ahead beyond May with plans to promote alternatives to the car without fear of a significant public backlash.”

Oliver Worsfold, Director at Savanta said:

“This latest set of results show that Londoners will, regardless of their political affiliation, be voting to minimise the impact that their council tax bill will have on their pockets in May’s local elections. Pressure on councils to bring in more funding for policing and transport by raising council tax has been increasing, and this has been brought into sharper focus by the rapidly increasing cost of living in the city. Londoners, particularly those on the lowest incomes, are certainly feeling the pinch, and will continue to do so over the coming months.”


Notes to editors

  • Centre for London is the capital’s dedicated think tank. Our mission is to develop new solutions to London’s critical challenges and advocate for a fair and prosperous global city.
  • Respondents in the Snapshot of Londoners were asked to select their top three priorities out of a total list of ten.
  • Re: National issues: The survey of Londoners for the Snapshot of Londoners Issue 5 was carried out between 23 February and 7 March 2022, before the escalation of events in Russia and Ukraine.