Tag Archive: analytical skills

Apr 20 2015

Use of evidence in Parliamentary business

Improving future use of research and evidence featured in the conclusions of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee inquiry into its work since 2010.

Looking to the new 2015 Parliament, the Committee recommended exploring how organisations such as the Alliance for Useful Evidence and the What Works Centres might usefully feed into the Committee’s future work, eg, in undertaking rapid reviews of available evidence on inquiry topics.

The Alliance for Useful Evidence submitted evidence jointly with Derrick Johnstone of Educe, author of our report, Squaring the Circle: evidence at the local level. Our submission updated some developments since its publication in 2013, and set out recommendations relating to the future work of the Committee.

The Committee acknowledged several of our suggestions, not least on the need to draw on wider sources of evidence and apply standards of evidence such as those adopted by Bond, the UK membership body for international development.

The Committee expressed concern about the DCLG response to its calls to explain the evidence base lying behind some areas of policy decision-making. It is attracted by the example of the Education Committee’s ‘evidence check’ where views are invited on the strength of evidence from the Department of Education on selected Committee themes. This web forum is intended to help with identifying where contrasting evidence exists and shape future Committee work.

Amongst proposals for future Committee inquiries are Devolution and City Deals. We, like the RSA City Growth Commission, highlight underlying issues around analytical capacity, skills and data as a significant area of risk to successful implementation. These are worthy of the Committee’s attention, looking at, eg:

  • how local authorities and their partners are adapting and strengthening their capabilities
  • how far information sharing and open data developments are supporting judicious innovation and improving evaluation of impact and ‘what works’
  • how well Government departments and local authorities are developing common understanding of evidence requirements, and
  • the contribution of government initiatives such as the What Works Centres and the Public Sector Transformation Network to local decision-making and capacity building.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=1326

Mar 20 2015

The work of the Communities & Local Government Committee

We submitted evidence, jointly with the Alliance for Useful Evidence, to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee on their 2014/15 inquiry into the work of the Committee since 2010CLG committee room. Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of Parliament

The Committee has a particular concern for strengthening the Committee’s use of evidence, and we were encouraged to submit evidence, given the experience of the Alliance in promoting higher standards and our research for the Alliance on local capacity and use of evidence (our report, Squaring the Circle).

In our submission, we highlighted capacity, skills and access to data at local level as significant areas of risk in dealing with notable challenges such as cutting the deficit, decentralising government, reducing pressures on health and social care and promoting local economic growth.

We argued that these issues should be considered in the course of future Committee inquiries, including looking at the difference that national initiatives such as the What Works Centres and the Public Service Transformation Network have been making. Particular attention should be given to issues surrounding the use evidence in central and local government negotiations, eg, on devolution deals.

There are opportunities for the Committee to strengthen its own use of evidence, in seeking out comprehensive research syntheses such as those provided by the What Works Centres. The Committee should consider the use of transparent and robust systems for weighing up evidence, drawing, eg, on HM Treasury’s Magenta Book on evaluation and standards of evidence used by bodies such as Project Oracle, Nesta and others.

The Committee has since published its report, acknowledging some of our suggestions not least on the need to draw on wider sources of evidence and apply standards such as those adopted by the international development body, Bond. (see our companion post here.)

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=1268

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

Apr 04 2011

Customer Insight Skills Audit

Humber Innovation Partnership – formed by the four Humber councils and other public sector partners – commissioned a Customer Insight Skills Audit as part of their Customer Insight Programme. Its objectives were to:
  • take stock of the state of play in developing customer insight, including how customer insight is perceived and addressed
  • highlight good practice on which to build, and how to increase returns to insight activities
  • identify skills gaps and how best to meet these, notably through making the most of existing knowledge and expertise
The research was carried out primarily through an online survey aimed at strategic and service managers and analysts, and through face-to-face interviews.The report ( pdf 568KB) sets out the state of play on customer insight, factors driving and constraining its further development, skill requirements, gaps and expertise. There are recommendations for driving the agenda forward and for developing skills and capacity at LA level and across the Humber.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=270

Mar 21 2011

Customer Insight and Research in the East Midlands

This project, promoted by East Midlands Improvement and Efficiency Partnership (EMIEP), sought to make the case for continued investment in customer insight and research, by demonstrating how these activities can lead to better and more efficient services.There were two strands: first, skills workshops and networking relating to customer insight, data analysis and research; and secondly, a series of sub-regional demonstration projects using statistical analysis, social research and insight methods to investigate different aspects of getting 16 to 18 year olds into employment, education or training.These projects explored, for instance, the needs and experiences of young people in rural areas, teenage mothers, and triggers for young people disengaging and getting involved in anti-social behaviour. Typically they involved analysis of Connexions client data and qualitative field research. There was strong interest in identifying risk factors to reduce the likelihood of young people becoming NEET. Further information about the project, along with project outputs can be found here. Derrick Johnstone played an advisory role as a Local Improvement Advisor, helping to shape the programme and input on practice elsewhere. This involvement follows an earlier LIA assignment for EMIEP reviewing customer insight and R&I in the region (report available for download on EMIEP site).

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=255

May 27 2009

Building R&I capacity in the East Midlands

Local authorities in the East Midlands have been spending considerable time collating datasets for strategic assessment and service improvement. Responsibility for collation is typically spread across a range of services in councils (and partners) creating the risk of duplication. Data managers and their teams have been carrying out large amounts of work to repackage nationally available data for local needs.Analytical capacity has been stretched by such demands and available data are not always used to the full. Research and intelligence has not always been joined up where and when it matters – within local authorities and across partners.Derrick Johnstone was commissioned by the East Midlands Improvement and Efficiency Partnership to undertake a scoping project to:
  • clarify common needs for improved access to, and use of data, including the use of tools such as MOSAIC, ACORN and OAC (ONS) and the resources of regional and sub-regional observatories
  • identify the potential for further pan-regional collaboration, including ways of developing and making better use of regional and sub-regional R&I infrastructure
  • assess models for joint use and acquisition of Customer Insight packages, along with potential savings through joint procurement arrangements
  • identify priorities for learning and sharing good practice, to inform the future work of the Improvement and Efficiency Partnership
The report (available for download) provided the basis for regional consultation, and led to the East Midlands Customer Insight and Research project, on which Derrick acted as an advisor. This project had two strands: one to developing skills and networks relating to research and analysis; the other a series of sub-regional demonstration projects applying customer insight and research methods in seeking to raise aspirations and the reduce the numbers of young people who are NEET (not in education, employment or training).

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=240

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