Customer story: Liverpool City Council, UK

Budget Simulator
'screenshot of 'Liverpool City Council, UK
'screenshot of 'Liverpool City Council, UK

Challenging spending decisions

Like many other local authorities, Liverpool City Council was facing a huge budget challenge – needing to deliver a £90million budget reduction over the course of three years.

This figure took the total amount of required spending cuts to £420 million since 2010, equivalent to a 58% cut in funding for the council.

Such large cuts would unavoidably have a large impact on the amenities and services that the city’s residents had on offer. In light of this, Liverpool City Council decided to run a budget consultation that would involve as many of the city’s residents as possible.

To ensure the widest possible reach, and well-informed responses, the council wanted to find an approach that would work online, engage participants and make the complex funding data easy to understand.

Liverpool City Council opted for Budget Simulator

Budget Simulator lets citizens try their hand at the challenge of balancing a budget, adjusting real data on spending and consequences to reflect their preferences.

Budget Simulator enabled citizens to take the challenge of ‘balancing the books’, adjusting data to suggest where they thought £90million of savings could be made.

To encourage maximum participation, the council promoted the exercise extensively – on social media and in the local press, as well as running an accompanying series of events and emailing thousands of council taxpayers in the city.

Within the first week, almost 3,500 people visited the Budget Simulator. By the end of the process, over 500 participants had completed the budget-balancing challenge in full, providing the council with a wealth of insight into people’s spending preferences.

Residents highlighted the services they wanted to protect

Budget Simulator provided some great insights into residents’ key concerns and priorities.

43% of those who took part said they would be “willing to see an increase in up to 10% in council tax if it were ring fenced to help protect children’s and adults’ services for the most vulnerable”.

Here are some of the additional highlights from the consultation:

  • Children’s and adults’ services should be shielded more than other services
  • The council should be more commercial to generate income
  • The council should charge more for some services
  • The number of councillors and senior staff should be reduced.

Overall, the exercise provided Liverpool Council with valuable suggestions that will be used to inform future decision-making. And the process provided residents with a greater understanding of the difficult financial decisions the council must make over the coming years.

Guide: how to involve residents in budget consultation using Budget Simulator.

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