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Using Community Research For Local Government Budget Planning

Funding is tight. More than ever, local authorities need to find ways for budgets to have the most meaningful impact in their communities whilst engaging residents and businesses in deciding what the priorities should be. Community research can be an indispensable tool as part of the planning process.

We can help with those questions in three key ways:


Using advanced survey techniques, we can show residents hypothetical choices – allowing them to choose between options in a controlled experimental setting. The result is a robust analysis of which services should be prioritised and those for which residents would be prepared to pay more.

A case study of community research we conducted for Auckland Council in New Zealand can be found here  Our research provided business case evaluations for proposed services and enabled the council to prioritise resources.


Gathering direct in-depth evidence from residents can complement wider consultations in local authority policymaking – to create a comprehensive business case evaluation for the budget process.

There have been many success stories with citizens’ assemblies in local government. We have extensive experience in creating similar types of panels and deliberative policy explorations for public sector organisations.

Working with South East Water, we created a Covid-19 customer panel to understand the ongoing financial impact of the pandemic and the types of support customers would require. Click here to view the case study.


Ensuring residents are updated about council priorities and what services are available is key to keeping engagement high. We’ve worked with many public and private sector organisations in evaluating which strategies are the most impactful. Click here to view an example of a project conducted for the Rail Delivery Group.

If you’d like to discuss how we might be able to design a research programme to help inform your budgetary planning, please contact Rob Sheldon