Data Advisory Services

Information on the CIPFA Solutions data advisory service

Why data is relevant to the public sector

Data helps local authorities better understand their place, and make decisions that improve societal outcomes for their diverse communities. It can also help with their own financial resilience, by getting under the skin of their costs and help plan for future outcomes.

What CIPFA has to offer in support of the public sector on data

CIPFA have the ability to use data wherever possible, with unprecedented times the need to understand where your finances will be in 3-5 years’ time has become more important. COVID has taught us we need to plan for the future more than ever, CIPFA Solutions can help you with this, we can use your data with;

  • AI Machine Learning/Predictive Analytics
  • Scenario Planning
  • Answering the ‘What if’ with data
  • Cash Flow modelling  

and many more bespoke data modelling needs.

How CIPFA has helped other organisations with their data

For over 100 years, CIPFA has worked with Local Authorities to build a comprehensive, independent source of data about local government and its services. We supply over 150 Local Authorities with benchmarking data, based on Government data or data collected directly from Local Authorities. We have a range of benchmarking capabilities that contextualise performance and financial management against industry norms, helping us to understand an Authority’s performance and financial robustness across a wide range of areas.

CIPFA collects, holds, and analyses a wide range of financial and other data and statistics relating to local authorities. We can draw on our CIPFAstats+ approach, including the “nearest neighbour” model with a focus on outliers to inform where local authorities may be able to make savings. We can also use predictive analytics where appropriate and apply ‘what if?’ savings modelling through our financial resilience model to build on the work you are already doing in these areas and sense check assumptions.

Data and a robust evidence base are at the heart of everything we do. Our approach produces market leading, easy to understand and insightful dashboards, ultimately saving our customers time and money.

How we can help

CIPFA were recently commissioned to run a survey and subsequent analysis on school meals. This involved helping to craft the questionnaire, cleaning and processing the data, then presenting the results in a narrative report and interactive power BI dashboard. This analysis allowed the client to better understand their unit costs, including differences between schools and their respective delivery models. The report helped to inform policy decisions, and ensure that the ensuing policy changes were evidence-based.

In recent years we have explored the use of AI technologies in our financial products, specifically the use of machine learning and predictive analytics. These techniques allow us to use the industry-standard of forecasting methodologies, to generate maximally accurate predictions about how both financial and non-financial data streams are likely to evolve in the near future. These methods draw on a large corpus of historical data, and leverage correlations across a diverse range of metrics, to give forecasts over a medium-term timescale.

CIPFA also offers scenario-planning services, as demonstrated by the Police Financial Resilience Index. This tool has been developed within the data team and in collaboration with Police Forces, enabling them to not only understand their financial resilience in a quantitate manner, but also model their resilience under different scenarios. The same methodology can be applied in a broad range of contexts, enabling users to input the details of a hypothetical scenario (spend pressures, demand, inflation etc.), and see how this propagates through a model to impact key indicators.

Public-sector organisations will do well to undertake “what-if” analysis, to understand their exposure to different risks and take appropriate mitigating action in good time. To this end we have developed the AFEP Interactive Financial Modelling Tool for police. This tool enables users to craft medium-term financial plans, supplying past data and projections across all major areas of cost and income, while offering the flexibility for users to input their own assumptions. This expedites the process of setting budgets at an individual level, and facilitates the comparison of financial forecasts between organisations.

Another area in which CIPFA’s expertise can help your organisation is through cash-flow modelling. Initially conceived to help a specific local authority visualise the cash flow with their companies, the full version of this system can be rapidly applied to any ledger. The output is a dynamic and responsive interface, that produces full summaries of incoming and outgoing funds, broken down by counterparty and date. This system automates a lot of arduous manual work, enabling you to explore big data and extract insights with ease.

The Data and Consultancy teams have combined our respective expertise, to develop a streamlined process for producing data packs for local authorities. The data packs have already served to support 10 rapid reviews for Central Government, and are now included as a standard part of consultancy packages. The packs offer a broad overview of an authority’s position, both looking at key financial statistics and non-financial metrics such as demographics, crime and house prices. Our data packs are designed for non-experts, with data explained via graphs and narrative, broken down into distinct sections for bite-sized consumption.

Contact us

For further information, please email John O'Halloran via or telephone customer services on +44 (0)20 7543 5600