Tag Archives: budget engagement

New Budget Simulator Lands in Liverpool

It’s Here! Budget Simulator v2.0 made its debut this month having been adopted by Liverpool City Council. The Liverpool team have been an absolute pleasure to work with (like all of our customers!) In particular it’s been a joy to have Mayor Joe Anderson personally champion the project from the very start; in fact it was his idea to run a mobile budget consultation…

Screen shot of Liverpool's Budget Simulator welcome page

Screenshot of Liverpool's Budget Simulator interactive page

Mayor Joe at the Heart of Participation

All over the UK , councils are facing financial cuts from the Government, some more than others. Liverpool City Council has been particularly hit hard, having the difficult task of finding £156 million of savings of over the next 3 years with £45 million of this in 2014/15.

photograph of Mayor Joe

Amongst other appearances, Mayor Joe has been seen on BBC North West news and the BBC Daily Politics Show speaking out on the importance of this consultation;

‘This budget tool simulates the difficult decisions that councillors will have to make…/…There is no option other than to deal with the situation head on and make the decisions in the fairest way possible…/…their (residents’) comments give us valuable feedback on what people see as the priorities for spending over the next year.’

Mayor Joe Anderson, Liverpool Express

v2.0 Optimised for Mobile

According to a recent summary from the Office for National Statistics, access to the internet from mobile phones has more than doubled between 2010 and 2013, rising from 24% to 53%, so the importance of enabling participation through these platforms is more prevalent than ever before.

With this in mind, Mayor Joe specifically wanted to run a mobile budget consultation to ensure engagement with as many of Liverpool’s 470,000 residents as possible. Budget Simulator has recently been rebuilt from the ground up to work on smartphones and tablets as well as desktops, so was the perfect solution.

Graphic of desktop computer, mobile phone and tablet computer

We are approaching the fourth week since the Liverpool Simulator went live and it has received over 4000 visits, of which 28% have been from a mobile phone or tablet and 72% from a desktop. 920 of these participants have submitted responses; a real win on the side of engagement.

Understand Through Engagement

The Liverpool team had a second key goal for this consultation: to inspire an understanding from residents of the challenges they were collectively facing as a community. Budget Simulator uses consequences and service descriptions to do just that. By presenting background information, the tool enables participants to make informed spending allocations while gaining a real insight into the reality of the task.

Screen shot of Budget simulator, the word 'consequences' is circledThe understanding gained through this project is a two way street of course; the meaningful, insightful responses collected from Budget Simulator ensure decisions can be made to better reflect the priorities of those they affect.

Embracing the Principles of Consultation

The simulator sits within a wider scheme of events and promotion, all geared towards understanding what really matters to the people of Liverpool. The campaign is transparent and accessible, for example the Mayor’s Budget page is a simple and clear port of call for all important dates, how to take part in the consultation and easy access to supporting information and reports.

This is such an important facet to Liverpool’s approach; making it easy for people to participate and clear how their input will make a difference. The concept of government consultation sometimes comes under scrutiny where the public feel their contribution makes no difference to the outcome. The government consultation principles document highlights the importance of reforming this perception;

‘It [the consultation guidelines document] is not a ‘how to’ guide but aims to help policy makers make the right judgments about when, with whom and how to consult. The governing principle is proportionality of the type and scale of consultation to the potential impacts of the proposal or decision being taken, and thought should be given to achieving real engagement rather than merely following bureaucratic process. ‘

Consultation principals: guidance, 2013

Mayor Joe represents an increasing number of visionary leaders making steps towards consultation practices which connect them to citizens in meaningful ways. Delib’s online tools facilitate these connections by enabling policy-makers to:

1) Engage with residents directly in an open and transparent manner.
2) Provide a forum for residents to interact with each other and have meaningful dialogue.
3) Engage with residents anywhere – Budget Simulator can be used on mobile devices and is responsive, opening up a wider market for engagement.
4) Create lasting policy partnerships between residents and decision-makers.

Digital tools at the centre of Mayor-led engagement projects

Liverpool Showing Us How It’s Done

There are many reasons why Liverpool’s Budget Simulator has been such a successful project so far. The tool’s ability to work on mobile devices, Liverpool’s fantastic approach to promotion and transparency, along with their clear commitment to ensure insight gained from responses will inform the outcome.

It’s likely to be a combination of all these factors, but one thing is for sure, the Liverpool team have set the bar high for engagement and best practice, and we couldn’t be more proud of how they have showcased the capabilities of shiny new Budget Simulator.

» Find out more about Budget Simulator


How Future Bristol are engaging online

What is Future Bristol?


Future Bristol is an online environmental awareness and academic research project which aims to engage citizens in a discussion about Bristol’s potential future as a low carbon city.

The project, which runs from the website http://futurebristol.co.uk/, launched on 28 February and presents two potential futures for people to choose from, and provides information about the various options as a way to educate and enlighten Bristolians about the possible outcomes of their choices.

Future Bristol website

The two scenarios are the result of research carried out which asked local influencers, ‘what would you like Bristol to look like in 2050 if it was a low carbon city, and how do we make it happen?’

Within each scenario on the site, visitors click on different options to vote on which they would or would not like to see in the Bristol of 2050.

Future Bristol scenario option example

Future Bristol uses Dialogue App

Linked from the site is the Future Bristol Dialogue App instance, which features the same branding as the main site. Visitors access the Dialogue App via a ‘Your Ideas’ link in the main menu of the website, and from the ‘Have Your Say’ link within the various options in each scenario.

Future Bristol Dialogue App

Future Bristol uses a free version of Dialogue App. As our global headquarters is in Bristol, we chose to sponsor the project, and provided free skinning of the Dialogue App so that the branding would tie into the main site (this would not normally be possible with a free Dialogue App).

Dialogue App allows Future Bristol’s visitors to add new ideas to the discussion, and comment on and rate others’ ideas, such as this one:

Future Bristol Dialogue App

Future Bristol uses social media to promote their site

The project is being run by Dr Rose Bailey, who had great success using Dialogue App for her Bristol Green Capital project. Dr Bailey is a gifted researcher and has a solid understanding of how to engage the public in her work. For Future Bristol, she is using Twitter and Facebook to publicise the project and motivate people, not just to get involved but also to make ‘green’ changes in their own lives.

Future Bristol on Facebook

This light touch approach gently encourages people to get involved, and the tone of Dr Bailey’s writing is friendly and accessible.

Future Bristol on Twitter

Visitors can share the site on Facebook or Twitter by clicking on the sharing buttons throughout the site, and from within Dialogue App.

Share Future Bristol on TwitterFree publicity

Future Bristol has been featured elsewhere online, including on The Ecologist Facebook page, The Institution of Environmental Sciences website, Bristol Culture and on the Smashing Awards Designs of the Week site.

Future Bristol are using illustrations from Andy Council, a well-known Bristol artist. This has worked to bring more people to the site as Andy’s fans visit the Future Bristol site to see his new, original work.