Category: Evaluation

Working Neighbourhoods Fund Evaluation Scoping

The Working Neighbourhoods Fund (WNF) was established by Communities and Local Government and the Department for Work and Pensions in 2008. It replaced the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund and the DWP Deprived Areas Fund in allocating to 65 local authorities to help them and their partners tackle concentrations of worklessness.We were members of a team led by the Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge, alongside Cambridge Econometrics and the University’s Centre for Housing and Planning Research.

The brief was to provide a baseline and interim evaluation consists of three parts: (a) a top line analysis of labour market conditions in WNF areas; (b) an early assessment of how strategies and approaches to tackle worklessness were being developed in WNF areas; and (c) recommendations for future evaluation of WNF. The research involved a literature review, an online survey of all WNF areas, and depth interviews in 20. Download the Report   (2,286 KB).

A further output was an assessment of the feasibility of a national evaluation of Working Neighbourhoods Fund. Action on this was negated by the change of government in 2010.

Derrick Johnstone was subsequently asked by CLG as a Local Improvement Advisor to lead a review of progress being made on the implementation of the Working Neighbourhoods Fund in preparations for the 2010 Spending Review.

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East of England Faiths Council evaluation

The East of England Faiths Council serves to enable the major faith traditions represented in the region to input to regional strategy and issues, act as a hub for information and advice for the sector, and more widely to promote the contribution of faiths to the life and wellbeing of the region. We evaluated the work of the organisation in 2008/09, undertaking stakeholder interviews and and an on-line survey. The Faiths Council built the recommendations into its business plan, important in the process of moving to a new legal structure and navigating its path through changes in the regional and local policy landscape. The Faiths Council celebrated its 10th anniversary in June 2012.

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Supporting Evidence for Local Delivery

Key Findings report from our evaluation of the ‘Supporting Evidence for Local Delivery’ programme, introduced by central government in 2005 to promote better use of data, research and evidence in neighbourhood renewal through the provision of technical assistance to Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs) and neighbourhood renewal partnerships. Published by the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG).

The research evaluated the quality and impact of four regional pilots and the programme as a whole, and researched analytical skills and skills gaps within partnerships in neighbourhood renewal-funded areas. The key findings emphasised strengthening skills and capacity at all levels, addressing needs within Local Area Agreements and responding to the challenge of the government’s review of Sub-National Economic Development and Regeneration.

Further analysis from the SELD research subsequently featured in the CLG report, ‘Supporting Local Information and Research’, published in January 2009.

Project led by Educe with the Centre for Regional Economic Development (University of Cumbria), CENTRIS and Makesfive Ltd.

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Flight of the Flamingos evaluation

The ‘Flight of the Flamingos’ was a training and development programme in Wolverhampton intended to help middle managers bring about change and strengthen partnership working, leading to improved delivery. It was piloted by the LSP’s Health and Well-Being Partnership between October 2006 and January 2007, with follow-ups run on worklessness and on private rented housing. We evaluated the programme on behalf of the Wolverhampton Partnership and the Government Office for the West Midlands.

The programme sought to develop participants’ understanding the service delivery system and their ability to influence within it, with expectations that it would lead to actions in pursuit of priority outcomes and service improvements, especially in making ‘seamless services’ a reality. Knowledge of systems thinking was built into programme design, eg, in:

  • making imaginative use of group facilitation techniques to help address some of the common obstacles to effective partnership working, in particular the use of the ‘World Café’
  • ensuring the commitment from senior members of the Health and Well Being Partnership, in promoting and engaging with the programme, underlining its importance as ‘champions’/ mentors for individual participants and involving, eg, the Council Leader, PCT Chief Executive and LSP Director in open exchange sessions during the programme

Benefits from the pilot included:

  • a challenge to thinking about how services will need to be delivered in future
  • new contacts, stronger relationships and greater mutual understanding
  • better dialogue between organisations
  • opportunities for voluntary organisations and the Library Service to be more central to service development
  • application of new techniques to improve partnership processes and service planning
  • reassurance for participants about their own strengths, skills and approach

Importantly, the programme has led to participants pursuing joint projects and bids, involving new configurations of partner involvement, such as in developing new primary care and community health facilities. We subsequently produced a case study ( 150KB) for the IDeA Partnerships and Places Library, which updated ‘Flight of the Flamingos’, highlighting how the approach – subsequently run across all LSP theme partnerships – led to a more effective and efficient approach for the partnership in tackling the big issues for the city.

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Inspire East evaluation 2007

Inspire East Evaluation 200( pdf 1203KB) – assessment of the impact of the regional centre of excellence for sustainable communities in the East of England. Follows work on the evaluation framework and baseline in 2006.

This involved research into the impact of Inspire East services (seminars and workshops, publications, website, etc) and wider influence of Inspire East on policy and practice in the region.

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Value for money & neighbourhood management

This project sought to inform work in Barnsley to analyse the impacts, costs and benefits of neighbourhood management, focusing especially on financial aspects of ‘cost benefit’. It broke new ground, and contributed to related work as part of the National Neighbourhood Management Evaluation. The level of interest in the work was such that the Government Office Yorkshire and the Humber (who commissioned the original assignment with Barnsley Council and the Kendray Initiative) asked us to produce a case study and guide for wider use. The project also featured as part of the National Neighbourhood Management Network autumn conference 2008.Download:
* Neighbourhood Management Cost Benefit guide (pdficon_small 452KB)
* Kendray case study (pdficon_small 141KB)
* report to the Kendray Initiative (pdficon_small 460KB)
* presentation, with Ian Smith, Kendray Neighbourhood Manager, to the National Neighbourhood Management Network conference, October 2008 (pdficon_small 714KB)
The assignment subsequently informed the development of a new Neighbourhoods and Community Engagement Framework, which mainstreamed the work of the Kendray neighbourhood management pathfinder.

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