UCLan students probe spending

The Bureau Local team at work
The Bureau Local team at work

Council budgets will be put under the microscope with help from a group of students from Preston.

The University of Central Lancashire has teamed up with The Bureau Local and Open Data Manchester to work on a nationwide investigation into council budgets ahead of the Government’s forthcoming funding decisions.

UCLan provided staff and students to work on the Big Council Budget Hack which took place in Manchester, one of several held nationwide, on Saturday .

The Preston-based team joined members of The Bureau Local, part of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a 475-strong network who use data to tell local stories.

The investigation will examine the budget data for half of England’s 353 councils to discover what will and won’t be funded ahead of the government’s next set of funding decisions in March.

Dr François Nel, inset, who teaches journalism at UCLan and is a Reader in Media Innovation. He said: “Working collaboratively with the news industry isn’t new to us at UCLan.

“But the extent of the 
collaboration and the nature of this important investigation is certainly something different.

“It illustrates the seismic shift in the way large scale data-driven journalism is made – coordinated by non-profits, like The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, and involving a wide range of organisations and concerned citizens working inside, outside and alongside traditional news organisations.

“It is also a fantastic chance for our students to gain hands-on experience of working on a national project using live data that could make a big impact.”