• With significant budget cuts looming, some authorities may be finding it hard to decide where to lower expenditure. It’s worth bearing in mind that some services are outlined as duties an authority must perform, which has caught councils out in the past.

  • The Information Standards Board within the Department for Education is developing information standards for children’s services.

    Representatives from organisations have contributed to workshops to progress the development of these standards and very considerable progress has been made in the area of Early Help.

  • With over 3,000 metric types available for LG Inform and LG Inform Plus, the prospect of gleaning one or two statistics may be disconcerting to some – but it needn’t be. Not only are there numerous ways of displaying one statistic – each split into separate metric types – but there are also several different sources of information. Here’s a few tips for report-writing and finding your way around the metric types list.
  • The Local Government Open Data Incentive Scheme is an initiative for English local authorities funded from the Release of Data Fund, to encourage and enable local authorities to publish datasets as open data, based on data requests received by the Open Data User Group (ODUG) from the open data community. It is hoped that the results will serve as an example of how the local government sector can work together to publish data from disparate sources into a consistent national data resource, for innovative uses within the wider data community.
  • Over the past few months, we’ve been working hard on a new feature for LG Inform Plus’s report writer: the text token editor. Now you’ll be able to create detailed, up-to-date reports on almost any subject you like more easily than ever.
  • Open data could soon make the UK ‘FOI redundant’. Dr Gesche Schmid said that ‘open data is not only about accountability and transparency to hold councils to account but much more to help the switch from government providing public services to more citizen, community and business based activities.’ From early July 2014, participating councils will be eligible to receive monetary rewards for submitting schema-compliant data in a programme managed by the LGA and supported by the Release of Data and Breakthrough funds.

  • Juggling public perception and policy can often be a source of grief for local authorities. Ever since the Telegraph exposed the MPs’ expenses scandal five years ago, the public’s perception of those in charge has been undoubtedly tainted by the crisis, which doesn’t always make it easy for councils to engage with their communities. Thankfully, a recent survey by the LGA found that the general public trusts their council to make decisions more than those in Westminster – so breathe a sigh of relief.
  • Imagine you’re a bibliophylakes (records manager) in Roman Egypt. Every day you walk in to work at the demosia bibliotheke (records office) and records are piling in from all corners of the province. Records are collated into lists, the lists go out for exetasis (scrutinisation), and the Empire keeps ticking over; the accountability of the state is facilitated by and based in that office. How is the duty of records management any different today?
  • If you were to tell someone where you lived, what would you say? You’d probably mention your town or, as long as it’s not a mouthful, your electoral ward. But what relevance does that hold to the immediate area outside your door? And, if you were to break it down even further, you’re certainly not going to say that you live in Manchester 042A, for example. The truth is that many administrative and statistical geographies bear little relevance in the real world to how people refer to their local area.
  • Kent County Council’s Legal Services team in conjunction with LG Inform Plus and the esd-standards team has published guidance on the legal powers and duties of every English and Welsh local authority and fire authority.  The guidance points to what services your council must deliver and what it has the power to deliver if it chooses.