Influencing local decisions


Last updated 2 March 2018 - see all updates

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1. Main facts and figures

  • in 2016/17, just over a quarter of people felt they could influence decisions affecting their local area

  • respondents from Black, Asian and Mixed ethnic groups were more likely to feel they had an influence than White respondents

Things you need to know

The Community Life Survey (previously the Citizenship Survey) is a ‘sample survey’ – it collects information from a random sample of the population to make generalisations (reach ‘findings’) about the total population.

Keep in mind when making comparisons between ethnic groups that all survey estimates are subject to a degree of uncertainty, as they are based on a sample of the population. The degree of uncertainty is greater when the number of respondents is small, so it will be highest for ethnic minority groups.

The commentary only refers to differences between groups where they are ‘statistically significant’. Findings are statistically significant when we can be confident that they can be repeated, and are reflective of the total population rather than just the survey sample.

Specifically, the statistical tests used mean we can be confident that if we carried out the same survey on different random samples of the population, 19 times out of 20 we would get similar findings.

Results by ethnic group are available in the reference tables of the latest Community Life Survey publication.

What the data measures

This data measures the percentage of people who felt they could influence decisions affecting their local area. The data is broken down by ethnicity.

The data shows people who, when asked, said they ‘definitely agreed’ or ‘tended to agree’ that they had influence.

The ethnic categories used in this data

For this data, the number of people surveyed (the ‘sample size’) was too small to draw any firm conclusions about specific ethnic categories. Therefore, the data is broken down into the following 5 broad groups:

  • Asian
  • Black
  • Mixed
  • White
  • Other

2. People who felt they could influence local decisions, by ethnicity

Percentage of people who felt they could influence local decisions, by ethnicity
Ethnicity % Number of respondents
All 27 10,014
Asian 37 1,086
Black 44 349
Mixed 37 446
White 25 7,854
Other 34 158

Download table data for ‘People who felt they could influence local decisions, by ethnicity’ (CSV) Source data for ‘People who felt they could influence local decisions, by ethnicity’ (CSV)

Summary of Influencing local decisions People who felt they could influence local decisions, by ethnicity Summary

  • in 2016/17, just over a quarter of people (27%) felt they could influence decisions affecting their local area

  • 25% of White respondents felt they had an influence, compared with 44% of Black respondents, 37% of both Asian respondents and those with Mixed ethnicity, and 34% of respondents from the Other ethnic group

  • the number of people surveyed from the Black, Mixed and Other ethnic groups was too small to draw firm conclusions

3. Methodology

The CLS consists of an online or paper questionnaire, which was completed by 10,256 individuals in 2016/17.

The survey has deliberately surveyed more households from ethnic minority groups, (excluding White ethnic minorities). This is because the smaller populations of these groups would otherwise give less reliable results.

The 2016/17 survey sample is large enough for the results to be broken down by 5 broad ethnic groups. Before 2016/17, interviews were conducted face to face, and the smaller sample sizes meant it was only possible to compare White people with those from all other ethnicities.

In the most recent survey years, sample sizes were anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 respondents, which was too small for reliable conclusions about differences between the White and Other ethnic groups. For these reasons, results for 2016/17 are not compared with those from previous surveys.

For earlier years, results for ‘White’ and ‘Other’ are available in the published tables in the series of releases for the Community Life Survey.


Weighting is used to adjust the results of a survey to make them representative of the population and improve their accuracy.

For example, a survey which contains 25% females and 75% males will not accurately reflect the views of the general population, which we know is around 50% male and 50% female.

Statisticians rebalance or ‘weight’ the survey results to more accurately represent the general population. This helps to make them more reliable.

Survey weights are usually applied to make sure the survey sample has broadly the same gender, age, ethnic and geographic make up as the general population. In this case they also took account of the over-sampling in any national estimates.

Suppression rules and disclosure control

All the results presented here are based on sample sizes of more than 100 respondents. This is because a smaller number of respondents wouldn’t be enough to draw meaningful conclusions.


Estimates in the charts and tables are given to the nearest percentage. Download the data to get more detailed estimates to one decimal place.

Quality and methodology information

4. Data sources


Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

Official statistics


Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Publication frequency


Purpose of data source

The Community Life Survey tracks developments in areas that are important to encouraging social action and empowering communities.

These include:

  • volunteering and charitable giving
  • neighbourhood (views about the local area, community cohesion and belonging)
  • civic engagement and social action
  • well-being

5. Download the data

Influencing local decisions - Spreadsheet (csv) 852 bytes

This file contains the following: ethnicity, year