Open data and all that

Opening up Local Spending Reports on OpenlyLocal

with 5 comments

As I mentioned in the last post, I’ve recently added council- and ward-level statistics to OpenlyLocal, using the data from the Office of National Statistics Neighbourhood Statistics database. All very well and nice to have it in the same place as the democratic info.

However, what I was really interested in was getting and showing statistics about local areas that’s a bit more, well, meaty. So when I did that statistical backend of OpenlyLocal I wanted to make sure that I could use it for other datasets from other sources.

The first of those is now online, and it’s a good one, the 2006-07 Local Spending Report for England, published in April 2009. What is this? In a nutshell it lists the spending by category for every council in England at the time of the report (there have been a couple of new ones since then).

Now this report has been available to download online if you knew it existed, as a pretty nasty and unwieldy spreadsheet (in fact the recent report to Parliament, Making local public expenditure data public and the development of Local Spending Reports, even has several backhanded references to the inaccessibility of it).

However, unless you enjoy playing with spreadsheets (and at the very minimum know how to unhide hidden sheets and read complex formulae), it’s not much use to you. Much more helpful, I think, is an accessible table you can drill down for more details.

Let’s start with the overview:

Overview of Local Spending by Council for England

Here you can see the total spending for each council over all categories (and also a list of the categories). Click on the magnifying glass at the right of each row and you’ll see a breakdown of spending by main category:

Local Spending breakdown for given council

Click again on the magnifying glass for any row now and you’ll see the breakdown of spending for the category of spending in that row:

Finally (for this part) if you click on the magnifying glass again you’ll get a comparison with councils of the same type (District, County, Unitary, etc) you can compare with other councils:

You can also compare between all councils. From the main page for the Local Spending Dataset, click on one of the categories and it will show you the totals for all councils. Click on one of the topics on that page and it will give you all councils for that topic. Well, hopefully you get the idea. Basically, have a play and give us some feedback.

[There’ll also be a summary of the figures appearing on the front page for each council sometime in the next few hours.]

There’s no fancy javascript or visualizations yet (although we are talking with the guys at OKFN,  who do the excellent WhereDoesMyMoneyGo, about collaborating), but that may come. For the moment, we’ve kept it simple, understandable, and accessible.

Comments, mistakes found, questions all welcome in the usual locations (comments below, twitter or email at CountCulture at gmail dot com).

Written by countculture

January 5, 2010 at 5:05 pm

5 Responses

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  1. […] Chris Taggart republished the first spending report it in a form which should make it easier to understand. Chris is our resident local data expert at […]

  2. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by countculture: Local Spending Reports for England opened up on OpenlyLocal Blog post: #opendata #localgov #gov20…

    uberVU - social comments

    January 6, 2010 at 2:41 am

  3. Would it be possible to get the spending broken down per capita? Or perhaps even per applicable demographic (e.g. school spending per child)? The latter would be more complex, but I imagine the former would be a fairly simple addition.

    Tim Green

    January 12, 2010 at 12:07 am

    • Tim
      Good questions. Straight per capita is fairly easy, and it’s on the list to do — the only thing that’s been delaying me (apart from time) is seeing if there was a better way (per applicable demographic as you suggest). That, however, is tricky, because it would mean specifying the applicable demographic per category. I’ll keep thinking on it though


      January 13, 2010 at 12:37 pm

  4. […] leave a comment » [Cross-posted from […]

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