Tag Archive: value for money

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

Oct 08 2014

Employer ownership of skills

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills has a priority to give employers greater responsibility and ownership in developing the skills needed for growth, not least through the BIS-funded Employer Ownership of Skills (EOS) pilot programme. This is funding innovative, collaborative, employer-led projects capable of transforming the delivery of training and making a significant economic impact. employer-ownership-prospectus-cover

Derrick Johnstone was recruited to the UK Commission’s network of well-connected Associates who bring  specialist expertise, knowledge and skills into the organisation, to supplement and develop internal capability around the implementation of these funds. He was recognised for his specialism in ‘local and regional skills and employment interventions and economic development’.

Associate roles included:

  • specialist advice in the form of reports, presentations or expert papers
  • working with employers granted support to develop outline bids to full applications
  • working alongside UK Commission staff to develop and/or implement new approaches

Tasks have involved reviewing how Local Enterprise Partnerships are developing their role around skills, serving as an assessor in appraising bids under the second round of the Employer Ownership of Skills programme, and seeking early feedback on progress and learning from successful projects.

Derrick’s latest role is in support of the UKCES Futures programme. This promotes innovation in addressing current or anticipated workforce development problems that get in the way of improved business performance.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=1120

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

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

Aug 21 2011

Place Advisor – Improvement & Efficiency

The final stage of our place-based work with Improvement and Efficiency West Midlands (IEWM) involved advice to the Coventry Partnership, in support of their IEWM-funded improvement project. This undertook qualitative research with young men (aged 16-35) in one part of the City, seeking to understand better their concerns, motivations and use of local public services. Partners sought to clarify what works and what doesn’t in how they work with different groups within this population, find better approaches and achieve both improved outcomes and savings.We also assisted the Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire sub-regional partnership,  building on their Total Place pilot. This aimed to generate savings, develop radical new forms of service delivery, accelerate performance and spread best practice. Projects within the programme related, eg, to children’s services, adult social care, procurement and asset management, strategic planning and infrastructure. Advice focused, for example, on performance metrics and shared services.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=259

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