LG Inform

LG Inform was launched by the Local Government Association (LGA) in 2011 to provide councils with a free and voluntary data service and benchmarking facility. It brings together a range of key published performance data for authorities, alongside contextual and financial information, in an online tool.

In addition, LG Inform provides a facility for councils to benchmark against each other using their own local data. To this end, the LGA has produced a question set and guidance – titled ‘Are You Being Served’ – for councils who would like to run a resident satisfaction survey and benchmark the results against other councils in LG Inform.

When the question set and guidance for the full LG Inform range of ‘General’, ‘Place’ and ‘Are you being informed’ questions were introduced in 2012, we were among the first agencies to deliver them.

Back in 2000, as a specialist in large scale resident surveys, we had also helped to pioneer the Government’s statutory BVPI General Survey to collect data for a range of National Performance Indicators. In 2008, we helped launch its successor, The Place Survey. This collected data to measure a council’s progress against National Indicators in the Government’s Local Performance Framework and benchmark performance against other councils. We are now helping councils make the most of the new opportunities for bench marking, by conducting surveys in line with the LG Inform guidance.

LG Inform can produce comparators for data collected by telephone, face to face and postal methods. More flexible than its statutory predecessors, it enables us to design surveys that meet the specific needs of each client, as well as providing a range of comparators.

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A South East Unitary Council commissioned us to design a general quality of life and customer satisfaction survey that tracked three of our previous surveys and provided a solid base for future research in a target population of all adult residents in the Council area.

Solution:  By generating a shortened version of the first of the three surveys, the 2008 Place questionnaire, we were able to assess the impact of initiatives introduced after each of the three surveys. The target population was all adult residents (18 years and over) in the Council area.

Analysis and Reporting: The survey data was weighted to be representative of the Council area by household size and ethnicity, then analysed using the SPSS software tool. Tables were produced showing ‘weighted’ percentages (and unweighted counts) for each question, for the overall sample and for agreed demographic (20) variables.

Statistically significant comparisons were drawn across sub-groups within the text of the report, together with changes from previous surveys. The main report summarised the key findings of the survey and differences between the ‘demographic’ sub-groups. It also highlighted ‘direction of travel’, key challenges and current strengths, as well as detailing the responses from each section of the questionnaire.

Outcome: – the success of the project was recognised by a commission to repeat the survey in 2014.

We were commissioned by a North East Unitary Council to achieve a robust sample of least 200 residents, aged 18 or over, from each of the its 24 wards in order to meet the need for data to aid decision making and service improvement,

Solution: To review direction of travel and track residents’ changing perceptions and behaviour, our questionnaire drew on the ‘Community Survey’ (2009) and the 2008 National ‘Place Survey’. It also included benchmarking questions recommended by the LGA’s ‘Are you being served’ guidance, to facilitate future comparisons on a national level.

Analysis & Reporting:  In order to counteract disproportionate sample selection and non-response bias, the data was ‘weighted’ back to the known profile for the Borough’s residents (based on the 2011 Census). Weights were applied for ‘ward’, ‘age’ and ‘sex’ (all three variables interlocked) using protocols previously used to ensure comparability.

The main report summarised key findings and differences between the ‘demographic’ sub-groups. Separate chapters dealt with each section of the questionnaire, with a section on ‘conclusions’ setting out ‘direction of travel’, key driver analyses and the Authority’s current strengths and challenges.

A major Borough Council in the North West commissioned a survey to review the direction of travel on benchmarks relating to the local area, community involvement, contact with the council and perceptions of the Town Centre. Core questions relating to the ‘Local Area’ were suitable for uploading to LG Inform.

Solution: Questionnaires developed in conjunction with the client were posted out to households randomly selected from a sample downloaded from PAF. A covering letter explained the purpose of the survey, encouraged recipients to complete it and provided a link to an on-line version. 1,234 responses, including 28 on-line, equated to a 20% response rate, without a reminder.

Analysis & Reporting: A detailed review of responses from identified geographical areas was included in a particularly comprehensive report.

An LG Inform survey that would build on surveys we undertook in 2008 and 2011 for a South Coast Borough Council was commissioned jointly by the council and a number of its strategic partners. The purpose was to identify the extent to which local perceptions of the area have changed over a difficult financial period in order to help the council reassess the focus and viability of the Community Strategy previously agreed with partners and local people.

Solution: So that findings could be reviewed on a geographical basis, a minimum of 100 responses were required from each ward, except for four where at least 250 responses were required. To optimise comparability, the postal methodology – especially sampling – was mirrored as far as possible with the 2011 survey, using a random sample from PAF. A link to complete the survey on line was included in the covering letter.

In addition to the random sample of households, a further online survey was developed and distributed with the assistance of the Council’s partners. A total of 2224 questionnaires, including 554 online, and the number per ward target were met…

Analysis & Reporting: Our main report included a comprehensive review of responses from identified geographical areas.