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 Academy 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.)