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PR 34 - Survey to fathom shift from public sector

10 June 2008

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) is launching a survey to discover why a growing proportion of RTPI members are choosing private sector jobs over traditional local authority roles.  

While RTPI membership has grown significantly and steadily over the past decade the proportion of RTPI members employed by local authorities is falling. This year local authority employees represent just 43 percent of membership, down from 54 percent in 2000. The RTPI wants to know if this is part of a natural evolution within town planning or if planners are moving into the private sector in response to negative experiences working for local authorities. It also wants to know if this shift in planning capacity is having an impact on the delivery of good planning at a local authority level or if professionalism within the public sector is being threatened by difficulties in retaining and recruiting qualified planning staff. It is hoped the Job Evaluation and Public Sector Performance Survey will also show up any deficiencies that might exist in the employment practices of local authorities.

RTPI Policy Director Rynd Smith said: \"The figures seem to indicate that our members are moving away from traditional local authority town planning roles in favour of jobs in the private sector. We are very keen to know why that is. It may be that economic growth has created more opportunities to work for private firms and the shift is nothing more than a natural evolution within town planning. But it may also be that local authorities have become less desirable places to work and planners are scrambling to get out.

\"We are receiving anecdotal feedback from RTPI members employed by local authorities that suggests many are becoming dissatisfied with their jobs. As well as frustration at a lack of professional development and limited career progression opportunities there is also an element of resentment at a number of significant wage cuts which have resulted from recent job evaluation processes. Many also feel that they have become rubber stamp bureaucrats as a result of an emerging target culture which values speed over quality decision making.

\"Hopefully this survey will give us a clearer picture of what is happening in the public sector and how widespread any dissatisfaction is, so we can take steps to address any issues which might be revealed.\"

The RTPI's Job Evaluation and Public Sector Performance Survey is available here. The results of the survey will be published in July.  

For further information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Dale Atkinson, RTPI Communications Manager, 0207 929 9479

Notes to Editors:

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)

The RTPI is a dynamic organisation leading the way in the creation of places that work now and in the future. We understand that just as people develop places, so places develop people.  We are committed to the enhancement of our natural and human environment, using spatial planning to manage competing pressures on our built environments and the very real effects on our space.  Through our 20,000 members, we constantly seek to create areas and places in which people want to live and work.

For further general information, visit the RTPI website at:

41 Botolph Lane, London, EC3R 8DL, charity no. 262865