Tag Archive: R&I

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 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.

Among proposals for future Committee inquiries were 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

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

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

Oct 20 2011

A national information function for local government?

The Local Government Association (LGA) wished to establish what actions might be needed to ensure local government has access to good quality data and information to help improve services and outcomes for local people, whether it be for needs assessment, service planning, performance management, informing citizens about performance, or more generally, decision-making with partners.With Oxford Conusltants for Social Inclusion (OCSI), we undertook took a range of soundings and background research to explore:
  • the need for sector action to improve access to, the sharing and use of data, including possibly support in breaking down cultural and other barriers to better use of information
  • realistic options for a local government sector-owned function, that will collect, store and make accessible data and information – linking as appropriate to other national systems
A presentation on the project was made to the CLIP (Central Local Information Partnership) annual conference in October 2008.Our report was used by a working group set up the the LGA Improvement Board, whose work was covered by a Local Government Chronicle article on 21 May 2009. In essence, the report concluded that while there is a great deal of data available to councils and partnerships, they do not always have the ability or capacity to use it. There are also gaps in information or it is scattered across a range of sources making it time-consuming to collate. There are key areas where councils could potentially benefit from LGA Group support. These range from small, quick wins such as sharing knowledge on research/data suppliers and services to larger initiatives, eg, on  benchmarking.The research provided a foundation for the latest developments around performance data from the LGA, in the shape of LG Inform, which allows councils to access and compare data and present findings. This is part of the LGA’s Knowledge Hub intended to provide the “definitive online environment for local government to produce and capture its own knowledge” – all part of the local government sector taking full responsibility for its own data and improvement needs.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=231

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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