Summary statement of accounts focus groups

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Purpose The Annual Report is an important annual summary of the council's financial and performance results that is published in the county council's Vision newspaper. This research project aims to investigate the report and whether it meets the public's needs.
Subject Budget and council priorities
Commissioned by Corporate Finance Team Resources Directorate
Geographic area Preston
Method Focus group
Consultation with Life in Lancashire panel
Date 01/05/2008 - 30/05/2008
Undertaken by Corporate Research and Intelligence Team, Policy Unit


Number in sample 10
Number of responses 5
Response rate 50%
Key findings Whilst the use of a focus group gives only indicative evidence, there were clear views given on the publication as it stands. The Annual Report met with approval from the group, which is similar to the approval the previous Statement of Accounts received in a similar research project in 2005. It was thought successful in its aim of providing a summary of council financial and performance information. A particular aspect praised was that information was provided on areas when the council has not met its targets, and the number of key performance indicators that have been missed. This was seen as giving the report the required level of transparency, which is seen as the most important priority for the report. The provision of information on the previous year's performance was also seen as important, as it allowed some assessment of whether services were improving.

The appearance of the report was generally seen as satisfactory by the group, and the ratio of financial to performance information and the report's length were seen as about right. The format of presenting performance information in terms of the corporate objectives was seen as a good idea as it gave a spread of services. However there were many suggestions for different areas to report on for each objective that would be seen as more relevant than those contained in the document. These are highlighted in this report.

The recommendations for the Annual Report are to continue both providing previous years performance data to add depth, and indicating some areas where key indicators have been missed, to show transparency and balance. Consider adding or changing some of the performance measures to those suggested by the focus group in the report (where possible and practical); and keep the layout of the report similar to its current state in future, or if photographs are added, ensure that they are directly relevant to the issues discussed, to prevent them being seen as distracting.

Project document(s)


Contact information

For more information about this research contact:

Rebecca Robinson
01772 537787

Mick Edwardson
01772 530290