Influencing local decisions


Last updated 10 June 2020 - see all updates

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1. Main facts and figures

  • in 2018/19, 25% of people aged 16 and over in England said they felt they could influence decisions affecting their local area
  • people from the Black, Asian and Mixed ethnic groups were more likely to feel they could influence local decisions than White people
  • these findings are broadly consistent with findings from the previous year (2017/18)
Things you need to know

The data comes from The Community Life Survey (previously the Citizenship Survey). It surveys a random sample of the population to make generalisations about the whole population.

The commentary for this data only includes reliable findings. Findings are reliable ('statistically significant’) when we can be confident they reflect the whole population. This means we would get similar findings 19 times out of 20 if we carried out the same survey on different random samples of the population.

As with all surveys, the estimates are subject to a degree of uncertainty as they are based on a sample of the population. Ethnic minority groups tend to have a smaller number of survey respondents. As a result, their estimates are less reliable than those for White people.

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

Respondents were asked to select their ethnic group from a choice of 18 categories.

However, the number of people surveyed was too small to draw any firm conclusions based on the 18 groups.

Therefore, data is shown for these 5 broad groups:

  • Asian
  • Black
  • Mixed
  • White
  • Other

2. By ethnicity

Percentage of people aged 16 years and over who felt they could influence decisions in their local area, by ethnicity
2016-17 2017-18 2018-19
Ethnicity 2016-17 % 2016-17 Number of respondents 2017-18 % 2017-18 Number of respondents 2018-19 % 2018-19 Number of respondents
All 27 10,014 26 9,994 25 10,417
Asian 37 1,086 34 903 32 887
Black 44 349 43 348 48 337
Mixed 37 446 34 494 35 486
White 25 7,854 24 7,943 24 8,412
Other 34 158 40 120 30 121

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity’ (CSV)

Summary of Influencing local decisions By ethnicity Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2018/19, 25% of people aged 16 and over in England said they felt they could influence decisions affecting their local area
  • White respondents (24%) were less likely to feel they could influence local decisions than people from the Black (48%), Asian (32%) and Mixed (35%) ethnic groups
  • there were no significant differences with figures from last year (2017/18) for any ethnic group
  • due to small sample sizes, figures for the Other ethnic group less reliable and we’re less able to detect differences over time

3. Methodology

The Community Life Survey consists of an online or paper questionnaire. In 2018/19, it was completed by 10,627 individuals.

It 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 to 2018/19 survey samples are large enough for the results to be broken down by 5 broad ethnic groups.

In 2014/15 and 2015/16, sample sizes ranged from around 2,000 to 3,000 respondents. This was too small to draw reliable conclusions about differences between the White and Other ethnic groups. For these reasons, results for 2016/17 onwards are not compared with those from 2014/15 to 2015/16.

For earlier years, results are available for reference purposes from 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

Results are not published when based on fewer than 30 respondents. All the results presented here are based on sample sizes of more than 100 respondents.


Estimates in the charts and tables are given to the nearest percentage.

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