Local spending roundtable discussion

Join the Bureau’s five city collaborative reporting event this Saturday

This weekend the Bureau Local is hosting hundreds of journalists and community members across five cities for a one day collaborative journalism event - and we want you to join.

The Bureau Local is a 500-strong network of people who care about local news and produce local investigative stories by collaborating with different people across the UK.

On Saturday the network will be collectively scrutinising local budget proposals to find out what makes the cut - and what doesn't - ahead of the government's next set of funding decisions in March.

People are gathering in Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Coventry and London on February 3 to dig into council budget plans and find stories on local cuts and spending in their area.

So far, more than 200 people, including journalists, data specialists and local government buffs have said they can make it to one of our Big Council Budget Hacks.

Some might come armed with information about how adult social care packages are changing in their area, some will be great storytellers, others will have technical skills to offer.

Whatever your ideas, knowledge or skills, join us to help us tell local stories that matter about cuts to vital local services.

Since launching its council budgets investigation, the Bureau Local has dug into 150 councils’ draft budgets and already found £1.7 billion in cuts over the next five years.

Care for the elderly, children’s services including youth centres, and public health services such as funding for sexual health, substance abuse and stop smoking services are now all being chipped away at the edges.

Bureau Local collaboration Bureau Local collaboration Alice Milliken/TBIJ

Involving everyone

Ahead of the big event this weekend, the Bureau hosted a roundtable with 15 experts to get more understanding of what the big issues are.

Councils including Peterborough and Leicestershire, campaign groups like the Women’s Budget Group and Disabled People Against Cuts, and networks like County Councils Network and The New Local Government Network all came together for the discussion.

One attendee told the Bureau Local that 2018 is a “tipping point” for councils that have so far been able to avoid cuts to frontline services. A council officer said this could be the “end of local councils as service providers”.

We have teamed up with universities and the tech community to get space, resources and additional knowledge for the 5-city event series on Saturday.

Our hosts are Coventry University, Leeds Trinity University and Goldsmiths, University of London, the BBC North East, Newcastle University’s Civic Journalism Lab, and the Co-op’s new Federation House with the University of Central Lancashire.

We also have three data partners, Data UnlockedOpen Data Manchester and Open Data Institute Leeds who will be on hand on the day to help with technical questions and tasks.

Now we need you

We want to tell the stories of how council funding - and the changes that happen to it - affect people’s lives. That means, we need to hear from and include as many voices and experiences as possible.

Together we’re testing whether the power of a network, collaborating across different specialisms and places, can tell the stories of communities. 

We'll be publishing stories, visualisations and other outcomes from the day in a joint effort starting a week after the event.

If this sounds like something you’re keen on too - join us!

Join us for the Big Budget Council Hack on Saturday February 3

Sign up here

Header picture of the Bureau Local council spending roundtable via Alice Milliken/TBIJ