Data points

By Dr Tom Smith | 18 November 2014

With the per-head budget in England decreasing by 3% in 2014-15, the question of how and where to allocate shrinking resources presents an ominous challenge for local authority managers.

Where should you spend? How do you know what is good value? Spread spending too thinly, and you won’t see the investment fully realised, pick a few winners and you risk losing the investment completely if it doesn’t work out. This is where good, efficient and carefully-judged use of data comes in.

These days, solid data is not hard to come by. Most large organisations gather data as part of their everyday operation, and local government, with its council tax collection powers and electoral roll management, is no exception.

The aggregated statistics accumulated by other public bodies – everything from employment figures, to tax revenue, to disability rates and GP attendance – are now often accessible as open data.

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