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Local Government and the Research Community. Steve Martin LOCAL GOVERNMENT KNOWLEDGE NAVIGATOR SEMINAR 23 rd June 2014. A broken bridge?. Analysis, Advocacy and Advice. Identify local government knowledge needs Test whether existing research is relevant to these

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local government and the research community
Local Government and the Research Community
  • Steve Martin
  • 23rd June 2014

Analysis, Advocacy and Advice

  • Identify local government knowledge needs
  • Test whether existing research is relevant to these
    • Find and publicise exemplars of councils that are making the most of research
    • Pilot approaches to packaging knowledge - Need 2 Know reviews
    • Advise on ways to better connect local government and research/researchers
Overview of the state of:
  • Local government capacity and knowledge/evidence needs
  • Relevance of existing research base
  • Links between research and local government
  • Actions to strengthen evidence use by local government
  • Reviewed LGA Board papers, LGA/SOLACE policy priorities etc.
  • Interviewed key individuals and representatives of networks


  • Reviewed ESRC funded research and other research centres
  • Interviewed
    • Research centres whose work is relevant to local government
    • Funders that commission or produce relevant work
    • Organisations that are active in considering evidence needs (SOLACE Foundation, ESRC, NESTA, Alliance for Useful Evidence)
demand capacity

Research capacity in local government not strong

    • Variable and dwindling in-house capability
    • Diminishing resources to commission own research
    • Lack capability to scan for and make most of existing research knowledge and evidence
  • Exemplars – effective because of champions and in spite of existing structures, processes andincentives
Demand - capacity
demand attitudes
Lack of a research isn’t the most significant issue facing local politicians or managers
  • Idea of building local government R&D unfamiliar and met with some scepticism
  • But recognition that austerity means we need knowledge and evidence to find new solutions
  • Interest in focusing publicly funded research on local government’s needs
Demand - attitudes
demand needs
Accessible, reliable and timely (answer today’s questions)
  • Co-definition of problems and co-production of solutions
  • Navigation aids and segmentation – who needs what knowledge and bringing it to their attention
  • Translation and transferability - help in understanding replicability and application in local context
  • Focus on local government perspective – national policy needs not necessarily the same as local needs
  • Research methodologies which support innovation
Demand - needs
demand topics

Current complex multi-faceted ‘problems’

  • Cross local services - ‘place based’ issues
  • Not new, but with austerity twist
      • Local economic levers
      • People with learning disabilities
      • Public health
      • Local government in a digital age
      • Local government in an ageing society
      • Future models of local government
      • New models of finance
      • Troubled families
Demand - topics
supply research councils
ESRC instruments
  • Knowledge Exchange, KTPs, IAAs
  • PhD studentship schemes
  • Venture Partnerships

Existing material and research centres

  • Over 100 ESRC funded projects in last four years
  • Institute for Local Governance, Durham University
  • Centre for Population Change, Southampton and St Andrews
  • Centre for Market and Public Organisation, Bristol
  • Centre for Microeconomic Analysis of Public Policy, IFS  
  • Spatial Economics Research Unit, LSE
  • What Works Centres

Plus cross UK Research Council potential

Supply: Research councils
supply non rcuk
Kings Fund – health and social care, telehealth and telecare
  • Nuffield Trust - finance and deliver of quality social care 
  • Centre of Urban and Regional Development Studies, Newcastle University
  • INLOGOV at Birmingham, Centre for Local & Regional Government Research at Cardiff University and LGRU at DMU
  • Centre for Low Carbon Futures, Leeds University
  • Joseph Rowntree Foundation - poverty, place and the ageing society (programmes with Leeds, York and Bradford councils)
  • National Foundation for Educational Research
  • Public Policy Institutes – Bath, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Liverpool, LSE, Manchester, Southampton, Strathclyde
Supply: non RCUK
  • Change cultures in both communities
  • Improve connectivity between and among the communities
  • Embed research in local government
  • Seize some strategic opportunities to harness research