Councils: What to do with the draft methodology to ensure your council Scorecard is accurate next year? 

People in a meeting

 We have now published the (hopefully!) long-awaited methodology for how we plan to score councils on their climate action in 2023. A part of this, we wanted to share some advice for councils on how you might want to use this published draft methodology to make sure we score your council as accurately as possible next year. 

 As with the last Scorecards, we will be scoring councils on publicly available information, found by our volunteers, so we need to be able to find the evidence to answer each question. It can’t be in a hidden document or based on a conversation alone. What’s new this year is that for some of the questions we are using national data and Freedom of Information requests. This blog is about how you can ensure that the questions based on publicly available council information that are being marked by volunteers are scored the most accurately. 

Make sure we can find the evidence

Firstly, please make sure all the relevant documents and evidence are publicly available on the council website and easy to find. Doing this is likely to increase your score in the Scorecards as we are marking on publicly available information. When we did a trial mark of this methodology we found cases where, for example, a councils’ procurement policy was listed on their website, but then the link was broken or just wasn’t there. Making sure this information is publicly available and easy to find is also likely to make the Right of Reply process smoother, as you will be able to verify a more complete first draft Scorecard result for your council.

 This year we will be looking for evidence in many places, depending on the question and section. But there is one document that we expect will be a key document that we will be looking at when scoring, and that is your councils’ Climate Action Plan Update. We also have a question on whether a council has a yearly climate update report accessible from the councils’ web homepage. You can choose where this Update goes, though we would encourage these to be linked to your relevant climate change/sustainability webpages, as this is clearest for us and your residents. 

Let relevant staff members know about it

If you are a council officer reading this blog, you probably already know (at least something) about the Scorecards, but that doesn’t mean everyone in your council does. As you can see from this years’ draft methodology we are covering a wide range of actions, actions that cut across council departments. It would be really helpful to let relevant staff members know about our draft methodology and how we will be scoring councils in 2023. For example, you might want to let the Planning or Transport teams know that the Scorecards are happening, in case they have relevant information they want to make sure is public for when we score.

 We will also be using a small number of FOI’s this year, because some of the information we need to answer these questions isn’t easily publicly available. We will be sending out the FOI’s in the new year though you can already see the actual FOI questions we plan to send out in advance here. Therefore, if you have the time and want to, feel free to start preparing the FOI responses for your council in advance. By law, councils must respond to an FOI request in 20 working days however we know that sometimes councils are very busy with lots of requests. By sharing the actual FOI questions in advance of sending out the formal FOI’s we hope that this might help make the workload less for councils. 

Use the methodology in your work

Finally, and this is a much broader piece of advice, start using the methodology to improve your councils’ climate action. This draft methodology of the Scorecards is a comprehensive list of what councils could be doing for ambitious climate action. Even without the Scorecard results you could start using this list of questions to see which actions you are not yet doing as a council, and which ones you might like to start. When we conducted research in creating the Scorecards, we made sure that for each action we knew of at least one council that had done this action. This means that all these actions are possible for many councils. Therefore, we hope these Scorecards can support councils in taking further climate action that is urgently needed. 

 We hope you’ve found this advice useful. We also wanted to say a huge thank you to the many different council staff and councillors that provided invaluable feedback about the methodology as we created, from those who sent an email, attended our consultations or took time out to have a 121 call with us – thank you!