Pile of documents organised with colourful clips

We know that producing a great public consultation report isn’t always easy.

You’ve often got a lot of information to work through, and it’s difficult to standardise the process when individual consultations vary so much. We’ve seen a lot of government consultation reports and we know what works. So we’ve cherry-picked 10 examples of great features from our customers to help you produce a clear, concise report that your stakeholders will want to read.

Example consultation report: Front page of the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority's report for their Proposed Safety Standard - Community Service Flights consultation
Example consultation report: CASA’s Proposed Safety Standard – Community Service Flights

1. Explain how the consultation was promoted

Include the details of your consultation promotion to help to reassure respondents that the whole exercise wasn’t a ‘non-consultation’. 

Look at NHS England’s consultation report on mental health services for veterans for an excellent example of this.

2. Provide a clear breakdown of responses 

How many people responded to your consultation and how? Breaking down consultation responses by type can give your reader some helpful context.

Bristol City Council gave its consultation report on clean air zones some background detail with a breakdown of responses by type (eg online or at a drop-in session) and as a percentage of the overall total.

Front cover of Bristol City Council's Traffic Clean Air Zone consultation report
Bar graph from Bristol City Council's Traffic Clean Air Zone consultation report displaying levels of concern about the health impacts of poor air quality. 66% of Bristol respondents were very concerned, 22% moderately concerned, 9% slightly concerned, and 3% not at all. For all respondents, the figures were 61%, 24%, 10% and 5% respectively

3. Include event details

Including information on associated events in your report means that respondents who didn’t attend can still see that these events formed part of the consultation process. Bristol City Council’s clean air zones consultation report also featured this example of good practice.

4. Quote your respondents

Demonstrate that you’ve really listened by including some of the stand-out responses to consultation questions. The London Borough of Southwark did this beautifully in their consultation on Walworth Library and Southwark Heritage Centre. Not only did they quote their respondents throughout their report, they used one quote as their number one takeaway message in their consultation overview.

Image displaying quoted text which reads: "But our No.1 message to take away is: We have a big place in our hearts and minds for libraries and museums and the role they play in communities. We are excited by the opportunities this new facility brings to Southwark and Walworth

5. Use infographics and maps

Help your respondents to engage with the report topic and make it easy to understand by including infographics and maps.

Map of response types by location from NHS England's consultation report on mental health services for veterans

NHS England’s consultation report on mental health services for veterans included a map of response types by location, conveying a lot of information in one image.

6. Be as transparent as possible 

Letting respondents know who and what fed into a consultation’s overall findings offers reassurance, and helps foster trust in the process. You can provide transparency about the consultation process by including detail on your respondents, as long as they have consented to this.

Pie chart displaying respondent type (organisation or individual) from the Scottish Government's consultation report on wildlife crime penalties. Individuals made up the majority of respondents.

Sometimes it can be helpful to identify different groups of respondents – for example, organisations vs. private individuals.  The Scottish Government included this breakdown in its consultation report on wildlife crime penalties, and listed all of the organisations which had responded.

7. Include the questions asked

When you’re putting together your report remember to include the questions asked in your original consultation, for transparency and context. The Scottish Government summarised responses by question in its consultation report on wildlife crime penalties.

You can go a step further and demonstrate that you’ve taken the time to carefully consider any opposing views by including your responses to specific issues raised by respondents. 

Table demonstrating negative issues raised and the organisation's response in Transport for London's consultation report on cycling and walking improvements between Lea Bridge and Dalston.

Transport for London did this in its consultation report on cycling and walking improvements between Lea Bridge and Dalston.

8. Create a template

Speed up the process of report-writing by creating a basic consultation report template which follows your brand guidelines and has standard headings, so you’re not starting from scratch next time.

9. Consider publishing full responses

Some organisations publish responses in full (with consent and redaction where necessary). It’s a great way to be completely transparent about your consultation.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority regularly uses Citizen Space’s response publishing feature, as it did in its consultation on a proposed safety standard for community service flights.

Image showing published responses to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority's Proposed Safety Standard - Community Service Flights consultation

10. Complete the feedback loop

Keep your Citizen Space consultation overview page up-to-date, so that respondents can see your progress. As soon as your feedback report is ready, upload it as an attachment via the Citizen Space ‘publish results’ feature so that participants can access it.

If you know it’s going to be some time before a final report is available, provide an interim update on the consultation overview page.

We hope this helps you produce a report that’s packed with information but also easy to read. Have a look at our Aggregator to see how our customers are feeding back on their consultation activities.

If you’d like to learn more about what Citizen Space can do for your organisation, book a free demo and we’ll walk you through it.