Value for money analysis - find out if your budget is being spent efficiently


By N Burrell, Marketing, Research and Analytics, CIPFA 

Analysis - An essential exercise

With value for money front-of-mind for all local authorities, it’s essential to know whether your budget is being spent efficiently. These days there’s no question about the need for value-for-money analysis. Whether it’s pressure on budgets, demands to prove that a service is delivering for the right cost or the need to find efficiencies fast, it’s an essential exercise. 

The VfM Toolkit has been operated by CIPFA since 2009 and has become a popular, affordable way for local authorities to analyse and show evidence of value for money.

Upgraded VfM Toolkit

This year sees a complete redesign of the VfM Toolkit, featuring an upgraded interface that allows for easier analysis. So it seems an appropriate moment to give CIPFA members a quick update on how this powerful tool works.

Easy answers to complex questions

The VfM Toolkit is powerful because it offers a quick and easy way of getting answers to what are potentially complex questions. At its heart is a dataset comprising all annual Revenue Account (RA) budget returns and Revenue Outturn (RO) statistics covering English local authorities and the services they provide. 

This data is augmented by public-domain and CIPFA-specific performance data from around 50 sources. It’s a powerful resource in its own right. But when results from it are displayed in VfM Toolkit’s heatmap-style graphical interface, it gives an easy-to-interpret picture of how your services compare with a chosen peer group.

Comparator Analysis – 

VfM toolkit display screenshot: The further to the top right a service is, the better its comparative performance

CIPFA Value for Money Toolkit analysis screenshot

Drill down for essential detail

Once high-level results are retrieved from a query, you can drill in to an area of focus to find out more. For example, if a service is doing badly, VfM Toolkit can tell you which of the performance measures is causing the poor performance. This makes it easy to identify areas for improvement. It’s also possible to change the weighting of a result – for example by taking out irrelevant performance measures – to ensure results are as accurate and relevant as possible.

Updated ready for budget planning

And as a VfM Toolkit subscriber you can use your own tools for deeper analysis if needed, exporting data from this Excel-based solution into the analysis software of your choice. It’s also important to know that data is updated in VfM Toolkit as soon as datasets like RO and RA are released, early enough to help you plan budgets and identify savings for the coming year.

Improvements in the latest release of VfM Toolkit include:

  • Access to the Nearest Neighbour model
  • Upgraded interface for better ease of use and analysis
  • New summary reporting tool and graphical outputs
  • Easier historical trend analysis

At £1,750 + VAT for a 2019 annual subscription, VfM Toolkit itself provides excellent value for money for any local authority looking to understand how their services are performing.

Discover more 

To discuss how CIPFA can help you with tracking the costs and performance of your services and compare them to your peers,  visit VfM Toolkit or contact our Analytics team:

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