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Catalysing Change: Smart Data Foundry and East Renfrewshire Council unveil ground-breaking Cost-of-Living Dashboard

September 2023

Overview of the project

Smart Data Foundry has collaborated with East Renfrewshire Council to introduce a pioneering Cost-of-Living Dashboard. Utilising near-real-time deidentified banking data from NatWest, this dashboard integrates financial well-being indicators with contextual information, aiding the council in comprehending the challenges citizens face during the current cost-of-living crisis.

Our core mission revolves around unlocking the power of financial data for good. And to revolutionise our understanding of complex issues and drive innovative solutions. Our approach includes:

  • Creating an intuitive design through collaboration with East Renfrewshire Council.
  • Deriving indicators from de-identified current account data and postcode-level contextual information.
  • Displaying data at the data zone level.
  • Expanding use cases and functionality by integrating public or government-owned data sets.

In addition, our data-sharing partnerships offer unrivalled access to financial data, including a weekly feed of transactions from 1.2 million current accounts across Great Britain through our partnership with NatWest Group. This aggregated data enables the weekly categorisation of income, financial commitments, and essential expenditures, allowing for segmented analysis by geography, age, and sex, empowering decision-makers to understand policy effects on diverse demographic groups.

The Cost-of-Living Dashboard addresses the urgent need to support local authorities during the cost-of-living crisis by providing a comprehensive understanding of citizens’ difficulties. Armed with this knowledge, local councils can make informed decisions and allocate resources effectively.

There are many datasets within the council that are only accessible by the department that owns the data. Each department has their own data storing systems and the data cannot be shared with other departments because of sensitivity. The only way to make that knowledge shareable across the organisation is by manual intervention, as in a business analyst sits down to analyse the data and produce a report. The partnership with Smart Data Foundry is an opportunity to safely re-deploy aggregated information from different departments into the common council dashboard to make it actionable.

Key benefits

  • Interactive dashboard for visualising cost-of-living data metrics.
  • Focus on specific locations and data zone level analysis.
  • Tailored dashboard to meet organisation requirements.
  • Enables specific council intervention and targeted support.
  • Multi-year data for year-on-year metric comparisons.
  • Quarterly data updates to keep insights relevant.

Empowering financial innovation and equity

We aim to inspire financial innovation and improve individual lives by harnessing financial data’s potential. We have established a collaborative ecosystem that empowers decision-makers to leverage data-driven insights for transformative change, forging partnerships with the public, private, and third sectors.

The primary motivation behind Smart Data Foundry’s creation was the realisation that critical policy decisions and strategic actions often relied on limited or outdated information. This data gap hindered progress, leaving vulnerable populations at risk. Smart Data Foundry developed interactive dashboards to address this issue, providing near real-time insights into the financial landscape.

These insights are crucial for strategic interventions, particularly in advocating for vulnerable and low-income groups. By analysing financial data, we can shed light on these marginalised populations’ challenges, amplifying their voices and promoting more inclusive policies.

Moreover, our interactive dashboards are pivotal in enabling the public sector to understand and measure policy effectiveness over time. By offering regularly updated insights and the ability to analyse data weekly, decision-makers can evaluate outcomes and consequences. This retrospective analysis fosters a comprehensive understanding of policy impacts, facilitating evidence-based adjustments and continuous improvement.

Next steps

The collaboration between Smart Data Foundry and East Renfrewshire Council marks a significant step toward leveraging data for the betterment of our communities. The Cost-of-Living Dashboard is a shining example of how innovative solutions can empower local authorities to address pressing challenges and make impactful decisions.

We encourage other public and private organisations to explore similar partnerships and initiatives that harness the power of data to drive positive change. In an era where information is valuable, let us unite to create more inclusive, equitable, and informed societies.

Contact Rui Cardoso, Head of Insights, today to explore how data-driven insights can shape the future of your organisation and the lives of those you serve. Together, we can build a brighter and more resilient future for all.