Data to Drive Decisions
People and organisations across the globe gather and analyse data to make more informed decisions – improving performance and helping to mitigate risk.
And it is no different for public sector finance professionals, especially for UK local government as they grapple with the impact of 10 years of austerity, the COVID-19 pandemic and rising demand for services.
But how can data help? Very simply, in many ways.
Data not only helps local leaders understand their past and their current position, but with forward looking tools it can help them plan for the future. Data helps local authorities to better understand their place and make decisions that improve societal outcomes for their diverse communities. It can also help with their own financial resilience, for example by getting under the skin of their support services costs.
How can CIPFA help?
CIPFA has long recognised the importance of data. For over 100 years, we have worked with local authorities to build the most comprehensive, independent source of data about local government and its services in the UK.
We are now undertaking an extensive transformation programme and will soon introduce a new cloud-based data management platform which will give users the opportunity to both visualise and explore the wide range of data we hold. Our CIPFAstats+ product suite will be the first to go live on the new platform - and its capacity for producing visually compelling, actionable insights will be unprecedented.
Below you will find our full product range. Each element has been designed to help councils make sense of their current environment by providing the insight needed to make tough decisions on how financial and people resources are allocated, for the benefit of both their balance sheets and the people they serve.
Improving outcomes for communities
- Frontline services and their finances
Understanding how frontline services are performing is critical to knowing the best ways to reduce costs while maintaining service levels. Our CIPFAstats+ product suite offers invaluable insight into key areas, from education and social care through to housing services, culture, leisure and recreation, and waste management.
CIPFAstats also now encompasses our Housing 360 tools (see below), our VfM Toolkit which allows councils to compare their key performance indicators to similar authorities, as well as our Nearest Neighbours Model which helps councils to assess who they should be benchmarking their organisation against.
Predictive analytics and performance measurement will play an increasingly vital role in the way councils manage their properties. CIPFA's new Housing 360 tools aggregate public data available within established statutory government returns. However, this tool isn't solely focused on the past and includes a module providing forecasts for the future. Housing 360 is available to buy as a standalone tool or as part of a package with CIPFAstats+.
- Vulnerable people
Social care supports society's most vulnerable people. Yet it is a sector in crisis with ever-increasing demand, unmet need, rising costs and a fragile provider market. Our Social Care Benchmarking service offers a framework for comparison to help councils focus on the future and scope out the challenges ahead. It is a core part of our overall social care offering and includes both adults' and children's services.
CIPFA has partnered with data management company Xantura to help councils find and protect those in immediate need as a result of COVID-19, as well as those who could find themselves in need in the future. Their COVID-19 OneView service enables authorities to consider where preventative efforts might support those at risk in the community before they are in critical need of help. Pairing this insight with CIPFA's Financial Foresight Tool will help ensure that pressure points are identified and addressed earlier.
Our partnership with Xantura also encompasses the Single View of Debt and Vulnerability service. This tool allows councils to more intelligently assess their overall view of debt and balance this against the needs of individuals and cohorts of people to help develop more sustainable solutions for all.
- Public libraries
Offering access to knowledge, culture and a range of community services, public libraries play a fundamental role in society. Each year CIPFA surveys public libraries across the UK to gather data on service costs and performance. The resulting annual reports provide invaluable insights to help inform modernisation and improvement strategies.
Improving financial resilience
- Financial performance
Together, CIPFA and Grant Thornton have developed Financial Foresight, a modelling tool which aligns with CIPFA's Financial Resilience Index and Future Resources Model. Powered by local authority financial data from 2009–2010 to 2017–2018, it provides current insights and a dynamic projection of every English council's financial trajectory over a 20-year horizon, focusing on the long-term sustainability of councils' finances.
Also delivered in partnership with Grant Thornton, CFO Insights is an online analysis tool that gives instant access to insight around the financial performance, socio-economic context and service outcomes for every council in England, Scotland and Wales.
- Support services
Benefits administration, council tax, human resources and insurance each make an important contribution towards a council's overall efficiency. Covering all key support functions, our Support Services Benchmarking service measures councils' support functions and compares performance to similar organisations, highlighting where changes are needed to enhance resilience.
Radical changes are intended for the planning system across England, Wales and Scotland, yet a local authority's planning function has been significantly impacted by funding challenges. Our Planning Benchmarking Service can help councils understand how well local planning systems compare on a range of areas, which in turn identifies performance gaps and areas for improvement.
For advice and support on your own data project or to discuss which products would best suit your needs, please contact:
Nina Johansson, Senior Business Development Manager, CIPFA
T: 0207 543 5600