Tag Archives: councils

How to: get data out of council budget reports

When councils publish their draft budget reports it’s not always easy to extract the figures that they’re based on. Here then is a guide to getting the data out of budget reports:

Get the ball rolling

Budget reports are generally presented in PDF format, with data presented as tables, appendices, charts and maps.

Before you do anything else, it’s worth asking the council’s press office for any spreadsheets used for the report – especially for charts and maps, which you cannot extract.

This might not get you data immediately, but it sets the ball rolling while you’re working on it from your side. On that front, you might also want to consider FOI requests to particular departments for data prepared for particular aspects of the budget.

Getting tables out of PDFs Continue reading

VIDEO: Investigating local government – Paul Dale

For 35 years Paul Dale reported on Birmingham City Council for the local press. As this first interview for Help Me Investigate, he gives his tips on starting to investigate local government, and the importance of human contacts.

In this clip Paul talks about understanding the structure of local government:

Finally, Paul speaks about how investigating local government makes you particularly employable.

Do you have any tips on investigating local government?