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Summary of Research & Knowledge Exchange Projects

A Longitudinal Assessment of the Socio-economic Impact of the Delivery of Large Scale Regeneration Projects

This project was funded by the REIP Construction and Asset Management Board and supported by Redcar and Cleveland Council. The research was led by Northumbria University in collaboration with Durham University. The total value of the contract was £35,000 with a £15,000 contribution from the ILG Pathfinders Fund.

This research emerged from an interest amongst the region's local authorities in the evaluation of the impact of large scale regeneration from a social as well as an economic and built environment perspective. Based on a case study, the aim of the project was to establish a base line position and design a robust strategy for a 25 year longitudinal assessment of the impact of the delivery of a large scale regeneration project: the Greater Eston Master Plan.

In the course of the work a literature review was undertaken alongside consultation with key stakeholders and local residents, the investigation of funding sources and the development of a methodology based on a flexible and transferable framework.

Researching The Region's Future Workforce Requirements (specific assessment of the impact on apprenticeships in Tees Valley of the economic downturn)

This project was funded by the RIEP Construction and Asset Management Board and supported by Redcar and Cleveland Council. A sum of £50,000 was made available with £25,000 from the ILG Pathfinders Fund.

The research examined the effect of the economic downturn on apprenticeships. In particular, there was a concern that whilst all firms understand the importance of investing in staff development that when staff pressures are acute, apprenticeships and graduates are the first to be cut. It explored what more the region's local authorities could do to address the problems faced by apprentices employed in badly affected industries. The research was conducted in two phases. The first sought to analyse experience in the steel and process industries with the object of developing a best practice model of the management of apprentice schemes based on these and other industries. The model was then tested across a range of sectors including local government and construction, based on semi-structured interviews.

Future Recyclates Planning for North East Local Authorities: a critical perspective

This project was funded by the North East Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnership (NERIEP) following a dialogue initiated by the ILG between academics and practitioners. The contract was undertaken by the Clean Environment Management Centre (CLEMANCE) at Teesside University. The total value of the contract was £123,000 with a financial contribution of £20,000 from the ILG Pathfinders Fund.

The research was a response to concerns about the impact of economic downturn on the market value of kerbside recyclates collected by North East Local Authorities. A recycling audit was undertaken alongside a critical assessment of prevailing commodity markets and a feasibility study into the options of regional recycling including the identification of under utilised capacity for recyclate reprocessing.

Evaluating the Impact and Efficacy of the Regional Children's Services Board and Pilot Projects Delivered by the Programme Board

This project was funded by the RIEP Children's Services Board and undertaken by Sunderland University. Local authority councillors and service users engaged in designing the research methodology and outputs. The total value of the contract was £80,000 with a £40,000 contribution from the ILG Pathfinders Fund.

The research was designed to undertake an evaluation of the NEIEP Children's Services Programme and the 20 pilot projects delivered by it. The focus of the evaluation was to identify the range of outputs achieved and assess why outputs or outcomes had not been fully realised. This included reviewing the experience of individuals engaging in the activities and any longer term impact on their work or behaviours. It also considered the programme's activities in influencing or changing behaviours, systems or cultures in individual local authorities.

An Evaluation of the Audit Social Care Fund to Pilot a Range of Innovative Personalisation Interventions

This project was funded by the NERIEP Adult Social Care Board and commissioned by the ILG. The total value of the contract was £80,000 with a £40,000 contribution from the ILG Pathfinders Fund. The lead research institution was Newcastle University in partnership with Durham University.

This project involved the evaluation of an innovative programme of adult social care initiatives developed through co-production between service providers, service users and commissioners. In addition, the research assessed a new approach to stimulating service innovation to address the complex and inter-related changes faced by adult social care in the region.

Evaluation of the Stanley Community Alcohol Partnership

This project was funded by Durham Constabulary and County Council to analyse and evaluate a pilot project on under age alcohol consumption. It was undertaken by Teesside University.

Community Alcohol Partnerships (CAP) bring together local partners and stakeholders with the retail trade. The research tested the principal instruments of CAPs:

  • direct access to supermarket head offices
  • provision of local support measures
  • local alcohol harm and anti-social behaviour strategies

The research assessed the effectiveness of partnership structures and the impact of its measures via an evaluation framework.

Evaluation of PSA 16 Supporting Adults in Sheltered Employment and Housing

This project was undertaken for the Strategic Health Authority by Northumbria University. Its purpose was to evaluate the outcomes of an innovation fund established to support individuals with learning difficulties and/or mental health issues in respect of sheltered employment and housing. It assessed the impact of these initiatives against self-evaluation methods and other benchmarks.

Total Place/Community Based Budgets

Both New Labour and the present Coalition Government have recognised the importance of locally based co-ordination of public expenditures programmes in the design and delivery of public sector programmes. However, this concept raises conceptual, political, institutional, implementation and cultural challenges. Both governments developed pilot programmes to address these challenges.

The ILG and NEIEP decided to develop a programme of action research surrounding this agenda, review the findings of national research and evaluation of Total Place pilots and place based budgeting and give consideration to the lessons going forward for practitioners in the North East.

A scoping study was undertaken with over 40 practitioners and academics designed to identify three action research themes which would be examined by University researchers leading on to research reports and workshops.

The three themes were:

  1. delivering community based budgets under conditions of financial stringency and uncertainty (Shared Intelligence)
  2. the application of relevant research methodology and techniques (Newcastle University)
  3. the potential role of the voluntary and charitable sectors to engage in community based budgets (Teesside University)

The Unintended Consequences of Public Procurement Practices: an analysis of public procurement in the North East

This study, £24,460, was brokered by the ILG on behalf of the North East Purchasing Organisation (NEPO) in association with the North East Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Small Business and the North East Social Enterprise Partnership. It was undertaken by Durham and Teesside University.

In recognition of the fact that the public sector in the North East sources £1.6 billion of goods and services from local business in the North East supply chain and on the wider North East economy. In particular, the research, drawing on secondary sources and interviews, focused on the unintended consequences of procurement on the activities of small and medium sized enterprises.

Tyne Gateway

This study was a joint project for North Tyneside and South Tyneside Councils (£25,000) funded by the ILG's local authority research programme. The work was led by Teesside University in partnership with Sunderland, Northumbria and Huddersfield Universities.

This research examined future delivery models for this innovative social regeneration project which supports the development of Community Entrepreneurs and secured a community involvement award. While studying for a Foundation Degree, individuals are placed by the local authority sponsors in community development roles including sponsoring the establishment of social enterprises. The study evaluated the wider contribution of the initiative to the Big Society agenda and the regeneration policies of the two councils.

Barriers to Enterprise

This study was undertaken for Redcar and Cleveland Council by the Policy Research Group at Durham University. The project involved working with the Council's Enterprise Team, Job Centre Plus, voluntary sector organisations, public sector workers and union representatives in analysing and reviewing enterprise services for those recently made redundant as well as further marginalisation of the long term unemployed. The work focused on a number of key issues concerning the targeting of support, client perspectives, partnership working and how current delivery mechanisms could be improved. The Enterprise Team took on board several recommendations and a regional dissemination event was held for over 60 practitioners and academics, at Redcar and Cleveland College.

Knowledge Exchange on Worklessness, Social Exclusion and Youth Transitions

Middlesbrough Council utilised its funding from the ILG's Local Authority Research and Knowledge Exchange Scheme to develop a collaborative project involving Middlesbrough Partnership, Teesside University and the Council. The aim was to disseminate the findings of academic research undertaken at the University on worklessness, social exclusion and the experience of young people to a wider audience and engage the community in discussion about their significance.
The research findings were summarised for use by Council officers and separately, wider partnership members. Three knowledge exchange events were held at which research findings were presented to over 100 attendees. Careful preparation ensured appropriate, varied and highly engaged participation from stakeholders. Post event evaluations were undertaken at two points in time leading to the identification of a significant number of impacts at individual, community, business and corporate levels.

The Development of a Whole Family Approach Strategy

This study was funded by the ILG's research and knowledge programme to examine the development of Sunderland Council's 'Think Family' model for service delivery. The model seeks to improve the life chance of children, vulnerable adults and families at risk by looking at:

  • the whole family
  • building on family strengths
  • providing support tailored to need

The research undertaken by Sunderland University evaluated the model based on a literature review, semi-structured interviews and case study outcomes.

Newcastle Fairness Commission

In the autumn of 2011, Newcastle City Council launched a Fairness Commission to examine issues surrounding principles of justice and fairness in the delivery of Council services. The Council decided to utilise the ILG research and knowledge exchange budget (£12,500) to provide a rapporteur function to service the Commission's work by undertaking a programme of research and assist in drafting the report. This input was provided by Teesside University.
In addition, the ILG commissioned additional items of research (£10,000) by two Newcastle University Professors as inputs into the work of the Commission. One study reviewed issues surrounding environmental justice and the city, while the second examined fairness within the primary and secondary school system. Both research studies were extensively drawn upon.

The Role of Social Enterprise in the Delivery of Public Services and Assumptions of Responsibility for Community Buildings Through Asset Transfer

This was a joint project between Northumberland and Durham County Councils, utilising their individual ILG research and KE allocation, together with an additional £25,000 funds to encourage collaborative research topics.

This action research study undertaken by Durham University sought to provide support to community groups, existing or emergent social enterprises and council officers in delivering their authorities' strategic and implementation agendas in the promotion of this growing sector.

In County Durham, the research analysed the process of asset transfer of community facilities and provided assistance to community groups and council officers to aid the process.

In Northumberland the research focused on the development of support infrastructure and commissioning practice to encourage social enterprise involvement in the delivery of needs based and targeted public services.

Evaluation of the Diamond Model

This is one of two ILG projects in which research collaboration took place between two councils. The ILG provided additional funding to encourage this form of co-production. The two councils concerned were Darlington and Gateshead, working in tandem with the Regional Youth Work Unit who had developed a model of delivering local services for young people. This was designed to respond to a shifting policy landscape which emphasised the need for more collaborative ways of working in the light of cuts to key funding sources, engagement of a wider range of stakeholders and greater participation of young people.

It was agreed that the research work would take place in two stages: testing out and evaluation of the model first of all in Darlington and then initiating a second phase in Gateshead. The first phase has been undertaken and assessment and evaluation has been undertaken by Teesside University and the Regional Youth Forum.

The Impact of Welfare Reform in Stockton

This study arose out of a request from Stockton Borough Council to analyse the potential impacts of the Welfare Reform programme on residents and organisations in the Borough.

The research took the form of:

  • A set of interviews with key stakeholders in the Borough identifying potential issues and patterns of behaviour.
  • The collation of administrative and official data alongside semi-structured interviews leading to the mapping of areas in which greater concentrations of affected residents could be identified.

The research fed directly into the Council's policy and implementation measures to tackle directly the challenges arising from welfare reform.

Understanding the Role and Potential of the Voluntary and Community Sector in Stockton-on-Tees

This study was funded by the ILG's Research and Knowledge Exchange Programme with the intention of deepening the Council's understanding of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. The research, undertaken by Durham University, examined existing arrangements between the Council and the sector and how its strategy and resource allocation could be improved to achieve the objectives of its Community Strategy.

The key areas explored were:

  • sector intelligence
  • investing in the sector
  • the commissioning cycle

Advice Services in Middlesbrough: Towards a Sustainable Model of Provision

This research project was funded by the ILG's research and knowledge exchange programme and undertaken by Durham University. The study was undertaken to assist Middlesbrough Council in deciding its approach to the future provision of financial and welfare advice services.

The work involved a cross borough study of existing services and how Council services engaged with the voluntary sector and agencies. It considered the Council's leadership role and provision and how services could be made sustainable in the long run against the background of significant financial cuts and the effects of Welfare Reform.

Closure of Rio Tinto, Lynemouth: Economic, Social and Community Impacts. Scope and Basis for Longitudinal Research

This project was funded by the ILG's research and knowledge exchange programme for Northumberland County Council and undertaken by Durham University.

In the wake of the announcement of the closure of the Alcan plant, the Council and Alcan Response Group worked with the local community and partners to mitigate the economic social and environmental impacts and ensure that the Council's delivery of services might be orientated to manage impacts arising in the short and longer terms.

The research addressed the challenges ahead by developing a longitudinal research and analytical framework. It involved a review of experiences elsewhere, examination of relevant data sources, semi-structured interviews and consultation with the local community, the Council, the company, local stakeholders and agencies.

Borderlands: Can the North East and Cumbria benefit from greater Scottish autonomy?

Following an initiative of the ILG in promoting more collective research across the region, the Association of North East Councils established a £100,000 Strategic Fund which has funded three research projects.
The first project worth £30,000 involved Northumbria University, Durham University and IPPR North and sought to address the implications for the North East and Cumbria of Independence or increased Devolution. The research focused on three themes:

  1. Informing councillors, officers and other key stakeholders of how the debate is evolving and the opportunities for North East England.
  2. Identifying disparities in the power and influence of Scotland and the North East and ways in which the playing field could be levelled.
  3. Establishing shared economic priorities between Scotland and the North East and opportunities for economic collaboration.

The research involved detailed documentary and literature reviews together with interviews with a range of key stakeholders from both sides of the border, including the Scottish Government, discussions with both the North East and Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnerships and discussions with public, private and voluntary sector representative at round table events in London, Edinburgh and Carlisle.

Other Local Authority Work

Reflecting his former role as Head of Analysis and Performance at the Government Office, Phillip Edwards has been assisting Sunderland Council in the internal review and development of its outcomes framework.

In March, the ILG Director attended a symposium on the 'Big Society in County Durham - Future Implications and Challenges' held at St Chads College Durham University, organised by the One Voice Network. Presentations were given by academic specialists, representatives from the voluntary sector, the Assistant Chief Executive of Durham County Council, and the Deputy Director of the Office of Civil Society, Cabinet Office. Professor Mawson gave a presentation on the development of social enterprise and the role of local government. As a follow up, discussions are currently taking place about ways in which the ILG could assist in the development of social enterprises in the County, utilising ILG research funding.

Over the past three months Phillip Edwards, who has a background in child poverty research, has been working with colleagues in the County Durham Partnership to assist in the development of Durham's Child Poverty Strategy.

Arising from work with the Crime and Disorder policy cluster, the ILG has begun work with the Safe Durham Partnership and Durham Constabulary on a scoping study of place based budgeting and families with complex needs.