Regulatory guidance – Statements about public funding

6 April 2020
Last updated:
11 April 2022

Top 3 additional considerations for analytical teams involved with supporting announcements

The statement (and visual presentation if used) is clear as to where any figures are sourced from and how any funding amount has been determined. Any supporting material that explains the strengths and limitations of the data is publicly available.

Previous queries raised to OSR from the public have highlighted issues with coherence of data sources between government departments for statements on public funding. Where there are noticeable discrepancies in expenditure figures between departments, this can reduce public confidence and trust in these statistics. We encourage public funding commitments to be based on the best available data and any related statements should be clear in the supporting material as to why the data source used is the most appropriate.

The figures used in the statement are clearly labelled as being in cash terms or real terms and the supporting information explains which deflator has been used for real terms figures. The language used in the statement is clear on the level of uncertainty associated with future funding commitments.

Public funding announcements often refer to “record highs” or “record levels”. Taking the earlier points into account, you should consider whether the language used in public funding statements can be supported by the statistics or whether selectivity of data has changed the sentiment of the statement. Language should also be used effectively to present the level of uncertainty associated with the statement – particularly if funding allocation is directly linked to changes in the size and demographics of a target group which may change over time.

Any visual presentation of funding announcements is appropriate and ensures the statistics are representative and not misleading. Any supporting information is readily available and linked to the visual.

In the age of social media, it is increasingly common for government departments to use infographic styled visuals to share funding announcements on their social media platforms. Whilst these can be a helpful way to share the key headlines from funding announcements, they lend themselves to the risk of being misinterpreted in that there is limited space to include context and supporting information. Where infographics are used, these should prioritise including the source of the data and any text should link to supporting information in the public domain that can clarify the statement in the infographic.

As well as infographics, government departments often include charts in articles and blogs concerning funding announcements. These can be helpful for showing the changes in funding over time or changes to the way funding allocations are arranged. You should consider whether the chart used in these forms of communication are appropriate for the data being presented and whether there has been any selectivity of data or cropping of axes that could change the nature of the visual.

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