Category Archive: Resources

Sep 20 2016

Low Carbon Innovation Fund evaluation

We undertook a three stage evaluation of the Low Carbon Innovation Fund (LCIF), commissioned by the University of East Anglia (UEA). LCIF is a regional venture capital fund in the East of England funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in the 2007-2014 programme. It has fully invested its funds of £20m+, intended for early stage equity investments in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which are developing new and innovative products, services or processes in a low carbon, environmentally sensitive manner.

Our final report is available, in summary or in full on request to LCIF .

The Fund is operated by UEA as part of the Adapt Low Carbon Group and managed by City firm, Turquoise International.

The Initial Review concentrated on the management of the Fund from operational, strategic and financial perspectives, with the subsequent stages concerned progressively more with outcomes of the Fund: actual and likely impacts on company performance and jobs, and contributions to the low carbon objectives of ERDF in the region. Our recommendations have informed the delivery and marketing of the Fund, which is proving highly successful in attracting co-investment and fostering innovation.

We carried out the evaluation in conjunction with Futureneering Ltd, Cambridge-based consultants who bring complementary expertise in low carbon technologies.

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=1313

Sep 13 2014

Squaring the circle: useful local evidence


How are local authorities and their partners using data and evidence to square the circle of dramatic reductions in resources set against rising needs and expectations?

The Alliance for Useful Evidence (A4UE) commissioned Educe to report on how local authorities and their partners are seeking to make more of a difference through better use of ‘real world’ data and evidence. (Download available here, blog here and related Municipal Journal article here.)

This scene-setting report considers, amongst other things:

  • how evidence is shaping priorities and helping to make change more manageable
  • recent developments in methods to inform investment decision-making, eg, around preventative services
  • data and evidence for service improvement and transformation
  • raising demand for better evidence – analysis and presentation
  • making the most of analytical resources within and across organisations

It highlights practical steps and the scope for further action, for the Alliance, partners and supporters.

It was one of a series of Alliance outputs in 2013 which sought to stimulate the demand for and use of evidence through promotion of best practice and learning. We have since updated some of the content of ‘Squaring the Circle’ in preparing our joint submission with the Alliance for Useful Evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee for Communities and Local Government (January 2015).

The Alliance for Useful Evidence has now over 2,000 members. It was set up by Nesta, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Big Lottery Fund to “champion the use of and demand for evidence that is rigorous, accessible and appropriate”. The Alliance is working with SOLACE (the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives), and our paper was informed by participation in the 2012 SOLACE Summit.

Nesta are partners with the Cabinet Office and ESRC in setting up a network of What Works Centres, including one for Local Economic Growth, in an initiative launched in March 2013.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=1094

Feb 21 2013

Troubled families in Brighton

In response to the Government’s initiative on Troubled Families, Brighton & Hove Council and partners undertook a short and sharp scoping exercise on how they are need to move forward locally. Alongside in-house research, mapping of service provision and customer journey analysis, we were commissioned to review service delivery models and the associated evidence base on cost-effectiveness.This work featured a review of the ‘direction of travel’ in Community Budget areas and innovative approaches, along with commentary on evidence on cost-effectiveness and summaries of the evolving policy context and knowledge on ‘what works’ in working with families with multiple disadvantage.The review highlighted a number of key issues including:
  • finding the money to respond to central government’s offer of up to 40% costs – demanding a well-evidenced business case and means of ensuring fairer sharing of costs and benefits amongst local partners
  • strengthening mechanisms for reducing ‘flows’ of families from lower risk groups into situations requiring crisis/ high costs responses
  • integrating resources for tackling worklessness (Jobcentre Plus, ESF Families Programme, Work Programme)
  • exploring further how families themselves can shape provision and local communities play supportive roles
  • ensuring that the necessary skills, knowledge and expertise are in place: not just in working with families, but also in co-design, analysis and evaluation
  • translating the costs that are avoided into actual cashable efficiencies that contribute to savings or can be reinvested in activities offering better returns
For a copy of our review, please e-mail us by clicking here .
Details of the approach implemented in Brighton & Hove can be found here.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=282

May 05 2012

Neighbourhood data: are you finding the information you need?

Data4nr.net is a website signposting neighbourhood-level regeneration and renewal data and resources. It is provided by OCSI and Educe on behalf of Communities and Local Government (CLG).
We worked with OCSI to explore ways of making the site, Data for Neighbourhoods and Regeneration, all the more valuable to users and potential users, leading to redesign of the site.Data4nr.net brings together datasets from a range of providers including Neighbourhood Statistics, Nomis (Labour Market Statistics) and a range of government departments including DWP, CLG and the Department of Health. It organises the datasets by theme, and provides detailed metadata to enable users to locate and interpret the data they need more effectively. In addition, the Data4nr service maps Local Information Systemsand provides links to analytical tools for understanding and using datasets, as well as links to key data suppliers.The refreshed site includes:

  • links to national indicators and policy outcome data, as well as links to related datasets and resources
  • more cross-references on related datasets, for example, to possible denominators or proxy datasets
  • news items highlighting relevant material on other sites
  • improved navigation and an updated interface, – while still aiming to retain the ease with which you can use the site

Its use has been widely recommended for local authorities preparing Local Economic Assessments and Child Poverty Assessments.

Data4nr has since provided a platform for the Government’s Open Data initiative, Data.gov.uk.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=224

Feb 20 2012

Worklessness Co-Design

DWP have worked with local authorities, Jobcentre Plus and local partners in five areas to develop Co-Design Pilots, testing new solutions in tackling worklessness – in a world where local authorities are had to rethink their role, given much reduced resources and the advent of the Work Programme and Community Budgets. The pilots were in Birmingham, Bradford, Lewisham, South Tyneside and Swindon. New ways of working variously related to, eg, working with families; Jobcentre Plus outreach; key workers; personal budgets; social enterprise for employability; and employer engagement; and a youth employment campaign. On behalf of Local Government Improvement and Development – since absorbed within the Local Government Association, we supported the pilots and wider dissemination. We set out to:
  • bring together knowledge and learning from the pilots and parallel developments in other parts of the country
  • signpost relevant tools, research and evidence, eg, on customer insight, cost-benefit, and service design and innovation
  • highlighting policy developments which are shaping the future terrain
Resources from this work are available for download:
  • Customer insight and worklessness: recent contributions to knowledge, evidence and techniques relating to the needs and experiences of customers of worklessness services.
  • Cost benefit and value for money resources: materials designed to assist partners in assessing financial costs and benefits in planning and commissioning, business case preparation, evaluation, and so on. It goes beyond ‘worklessness’ in including relevant content on children and young people, health and crime reduction which matter when looking at wider social returns and potential savings to the public purse.
  • Evaluation checklist for worklessness co-design: a set of questions, developed for the  pilots to help them build in evaluation from the outset (content linked to the appendix in DWP’s interim report which provides a ‘light touch’ cost-benefit framework
  • Worklessness co-design pilots: what’s been tried elsewhere?: a briefing on local ‘pilots’ in other parts of the country that have used structured approaches to innovation. These include initiatives stemming from Total Place and programmes such as Family Intervention projects, Drug System Change and Child Poverty Pathfinders which explore similar themes and challenges.
  • Tools for worklessness co-design: signposts to tools supporting collaborative planning and commissioning, customer insight and behaviour change, and service redesign and innovation.
The final DWP Co-design report drew out achievements, lessons and next steps. It also included case studies on each of the pilots, a checklist for local authorities on working with JCP and Work Programme contractors, and an outline of what JCP bring to the partnership table.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=272

Dec 09 2011

Smarter Partnerships

The Smarter Partnerships website helps users improve partnership skills and performance. SITE SUSPENDED – CURRENTLY BEING REVAMPED

You will find there:

  • interactive tools to assist individuals, cross-agency teams and partnerships assess both (i) partnership development and (ii) individual and team learning needs. Work your way through the stages, and get advice for actions you can take, appropriate to your circumstances.
  • on-line resources: case studies, tools and links to help users address learning needs and improve partnership working

Smarter Partnerships was one of the first partnership toolkits to be developed, and remains the only freely available one which is genuinely interactive, in allowing users to assess their partnership, and their learning needs in real time, and receive feedback on what they can do to address these needs.

We continue to have approaches from other organisations to make use of the materials – most recently by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service. Smarter Partnerships tools now feature in their ‘Support for Collaborative Contracting’ package. This has been developed in the light of the decision by the Skills Funding Agency to move to Minimum Level Contracts, necessitating much wider development of supply chain partnerships amongst learning providers. Other recent examples of use have included a county basic skills partnership and an aboriginal drugs and alcohol partnership in Perth, Western Australia.

More generally, the usefulness of Smarter Partnerships is recognised in the frequency by which other sites provide links – eg, National School of Government, the Improvement Network and the Improvement Service (Scotland).

Smarter Partnerships was developed by Educe for the Employers Organisation for Local Government – now part of the Local Government Association. The project was originally funded by the then Department for Education and Skills, and built on a ‘state of the art’ review ( pdf 205KB in 2000 of partnerships and local government.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=139

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