Examples of reporting back on Simulator

After you've run your Simulator, the final step is to report back to the people you've asked to contribute. Letting people know what you've done with their response really matters to them.

Be transparent: share how you considered their responses and what decisions were made based on these. This closes the feedback loop and demonstrates that the time people spent getting involved made a difference. It helps to build trust.

Here are some real life examples:

Aberdeen City Council

In March 2021, Aberdeen City Council ran a Simulator activity asking residents what is important to them in regards to community planning. They were looking to a refresh their Local Outcome Improvement Plan to ensure that Aberdeen is a place where all people can prosper. They asked residents to prioritise improvement activity based on what they thought would make the greatest difference for people and communities across the City to better understand what was important to them. They received 2,642 responses across the council area that highlighted what topics residents wanted the Council to focus on in their refresh. Aberdeen City Council created a full report along with a summary report, and also created an online results dashboard so people could take a deeper dive into the results. Go to the report section of this article to read the reports.

Liverpool City Council

In December 2016, Liverpool ran a budget consultation that asked residents if they would consider raising Council Tax by an additional 6% in order to save cuts to social care (an issue on which the Council was also considering running a local referendum). The outcome of the initial consultation was quite revealing, with 57% saying no to the tax increase and 43% saying yes. There is an insightful blog from Mayor Joe Anderson in the Liverpool Express and also an article on BBC News about how the outcome of the budget consultation steered whether or not the referendum would take place. 

The Mayor's Budget Report uses a combination of graphs and tables to provide insight into the figures – helpful for making the financial budget language more accessible. Go to the report section of this article to read the report.

Cyngor Sirs Powys County Council

Powys' budget consultation report focuses on how citizens' input shaped the final budget for 2016/17. This citizen-centric approach is easy to digest, providing a report, FAQs, a quick summary of 'You Said and We Have' actions as well as a great video on YouTube. It's an excellent example of joining the dots between the running of the consultation and what the organisation did with the responses. Go to the report section of this article to read the report.

Cheshire West & Chester Borough Council (CWAC)

CWAC's budget consultation generated a great worked example of the difference transparency can make to citizens – in the form of a 'participants' eye view' review of the process from Mils' Life/Work Lab. What I love about this article is that it hits home on the challenges that a lot of councils feel but find so difficult to get across; the consultation helped to demonstrate just how hard it is for councils to manage their reducing budgets.

"Whether we are professional politicians, ordinary voters, digitally inclined hyperlocal enthusiasts, service users and carers, citizens who find ourselves wildly unrepresented in mainstream media, poverty-stricken working-poor, or the wealthiest of the wealthy living in walking-distance from the homeless, it is in all our interests that society learns how to function, whatever the challenges that face us. [...] So here's a vote of thanks to a council I think is currently doing its best - in very difficult circumstances, and with extremely small room for manoeuvre."

The Cheshire West & Chester Borough Council created a couple of papers: a summary report and also a full report. Both are written in everyday language using a descriptive and accessible style. The personal message from the Leader, Councillor Samantha Dixon, on the summary report is a nice personal touch on a fairly stark subject matter. Go to the report section of this article to read the report.

Calderdale Council

Calderdale published a council approved Budget Report for 2016/17 - 2018/19. This report has a more formal style, with figures laid out in tables (report can also be found linked to this article). The findings from this consultation focus on how Calderdale can deliver vital services while living within its means and creating clear spending and savings plans. Go to the report section of this article to read the report.

City of Melbourne

Melbourne had an inventive approach to developing its first 10 year plan . Melbourne created a panel made up of 43 randomly-selected residents, business owners and students to accurately reflect the diversity of the community. This group then ran a number of workshops, discussion groups and events in addition to the Budget Simulator. All this information contributed to the 10 year Financial Plan which was voted in by Melbourne City Council in July 2015 (see bottom of article for plan). Go to the report section of this article to read the report.