A Guide to Forecasting Methods in Public Services


This publication provides an overview of the theory of forecasting, different types of forecasts and how these can be used (and are used) in the public sector. It examines qualitative and quantitative methods – what they are, and more importantly in which context it is best to use them, and an overview of how to do each.







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In austere times, it is easier to focus on short-term budgetary pressures rather than to manage long-term service provision that meets demand and is within affordable budgetary envelopes.

Yet forecasting future demand needs and future income sources is an invaluable tool for finance professionals that is sometimes overlooked because of forecasting’s perceived failings. This publication will help to dispel this view.

This publication is not designed simply for the finance professional working on forecasts. It will also help senior finance professionals who are signing off major spending decisions and need assurance on the bases of forecast preparation. It will equip the reader with the skills to know how to review the figures and to seek the necessary assurance.

This publication complements CIPFA’s suite of financial management publications that seek to support finance professionals across the public sector and to equip them with the necessary tools that are suitable in their context, using practical, real-world case studies.

This publication is available in book and PDF formats. Details of licensing arrangements for other categories of purchaser, which includes those organisations operating shared service arrangements, are available from CIPFA’s Publications Department.

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