About research and campaigns
APSE carries out independent research for other organisations as well as researching and writing publications for use by local authorities. APSE and De Montfort University as partners in an Economic and Social Research Council Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) has also been awarded an ‘outstanding’ end of programme evaluation, the highest possible grade for its partnership work on a series of guidance and policy reports specific to local authority and public sector issues.
Youth unemployment; Local authorities leading the response
Youth unemployment is one of the most pressing public policy issues of our time. We are in danger of consigning a generation of our young people to a long-term position on the ‘sidelines’ of our communities. It poses huge questions of social and inter-generational justice. It cuts across traditional responsibilities. It divides opinion. However beyond these policy debates, one thing is clear: local government has to play a fundamental role in leading initiatives and programmes to tackle youth unemployment. APSE’s latest research clearly demonstrates, it is already taking up the challenge of ensuring that this generation of young people do not become blighted by the consequences that a spell of long-term unemployment can bring to someone’s life chances.
Download an order form here.
Stronger resource efficiency for desirable communities;
How local innovation in asset stewardship ensures a green and prosperous economy
Taking the lead on resource efficiency can cut councils' costs and boost local economies this latest APSE research report shows. The report highlights ways in which leadership on resource efficiency can reduce local authorities' operating costs and stimulate local economies.
Local authorities spending £42bn a year on contracts, and councils have enormous scope to consider resource efficiencies in procurement as well as their day-to-day operations. They also have a much wider leadership role in promoting responsible management of resources in local communities and economies. The global green business market is worth £3.3trillion and the Confederation of British Industry found the UK’s share increased by 2.3% in 2010/11. Council innovation in resource efficiency can boost competitiveness in that market by enhancing productive capacity and creating investment and export demand.
Download an order form here.
Measure for measure:
Using performance information
in tough times
Performance measurement, and the use of performance measures to support decisions, should be a
basic part of local public service management. Good performance measurement is neither a luxury nor a burden. Performance measurement is the foundation of good management and good decisions. In tough times councils simply cannot afford the risk of basing decisions about the future of local public service on poor information. This latest report by APSE ‘Measure for Measure’ explores the divergence of the performance frameworks in the UK and how APSE performance networks is set to respond to those changes.
This complimentary report can be downloaded here.
Sport and Recreation
This new research on local authority provision explains why local authority sports and recreation services need to demonstrate their important contribution to health, well-being and social outcomes. This complimentary report can be downloaded here.
APSE’s latest research publication ‘Municipal Entrepreneurship’ which has been produced in partnership with De Montfort University. This report demonstrates that entrepreneurship is alive and flourishing in local authorities across the UK and challenges the myth that local government is monolithic, bureaucratic and incapable of change. It demonstrates that commercial skills and business acumen are flourishing in local government and entrepreneurial managers are fostering a commercial culture among council staff and contains a number of useful case studies. You can download the order form here.
The Ensuring Council: An alternative vision for the future of local government
Conducted by APSE as part of our research partnership with De Montfort University this research sets out the start of a debate on the future of local government, taking into account the views of APSE members.
The research finds that there is little support for models of local government that ‘hollow out ‘ local councils and recognises that there is a role for local government in acting in a stewardship role for local places and economies, as an arbiter of social justice and in providing public value, but only if it retains a strong core of directly delivered services.
Download order form
The transition to a green economy; The vital role of the ensuring council
Councils are already making an impressive contribution to developing the green economy
through use of their assets, community leadership, regeneration, planning, procurement, transport, education and management
of services on the front-line. It is disappointing that, despite these achievements, the Government’s recent policy roadmap on the
green economy does not make any reference to the role of local government in this important transition. Such a fragmented approach
undermines collaborative efforts and is damaging to the public purse. This research report is a useful source of guidance and reference for
local authorities who wish to embrace the chances to be part of the £4 billion global green economy, exploiting local opportunities
to create vibrant and sustainable local economies.
Download order form
Powerful impacts: Exploring the economic and social benefits of renewable energy schemes
APSE’s previous collaboration with CLES enabled us to calculate the ‘local economic footprint’ of public services. This latest research uses specifically designed methodology to quantify the environmental, social and economic impacts of renewable energy schemes. Return on investment was assessed in terms of; payments from Feed In Tarrifs (FiTs); numbers of people employed and earnings generated; value of supply chains; workforce development, training and skills; as well as savings in carbon emissions. This research is a must-read report for all with an interest in promoting local economic growth with sustainable outcomes.
Priced at £20 for APSE members and £40 for non-members.
The new green team: Local government, sustainable energy, jobs and skills
This new research report produced by APSE on behalf of UNISON, and supported by the TUC, highlights the potential for new job creation in local economies through green investment and skills. The potential for better energy management and security, a greater contribution to climate change aims and carbon reduction, and a range of new skills and job opportunities in the locality, were just some of the positive findings from the research. The research found there is potential for huge expansion in new jobs and skills include Green Finance, Green Law, Architecture, Research and Development, Engineering, Assembly Technicians, Installation Technicians, Carpentry, Plumbing and Repair and Maintenance jobs.
‘Click here to download a free PDF copy of the report’. A limited number of print copies are available free of charge. Please click here to request a copy .
Proof of delivery? A review of the role of co-operatives and mutuals in local public service provision
This research publication examines whether the claims made about the value that co-ops and mutuals can add to public service delivery are matched by the evidence.
This new publication:-
- Uses systematic review methodology to identify and analyse all the available evidence about the potential benefits or otherwise of co-ops and mutuals in the delivery of core public services
- Identifies the three key conditions of success that need to be in place if co-ops and mutuals are to contribute to effective public service delivery
- Takes an evidence based approach to setting out what co-operative and mutual forms of service delivery mean for the future of local public services
- Calls for a proper debate on how and whether co-ops and mutuals can contribute to improving local public services and what their role should be - if any
The report has been produced as part of APSE’s Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with the Local Government Research Unit at De Montfort University.
Priced at £20 for APSE members and £40 for non-members.
Towards A Future for Public Employment
This research report challenges government and public organisations to consider the value of direct employment in the development of future policies. It argues that, with almost six million people currently employed in the public sector, direct public employment could set a benchmark of excellence for ethical employment standards and for the contribution of employment to holistic public sector policy aims. It suggests that the private and voluntary sectors could then be assessed against this benchmark.
The Ensuring Council
In this research paper we review the challenges of neighbourhood governance, we identified emerging concerns over how far devolution to neighbourhoods might hamper the capacity of local authorities to exercise strategic leadership across a locality. Our current research has highlighted a number of conditions which might ease the potential tensions between what we term the macro-dynamics of place and the micro-dynamics of neighbourhoods. This is an essential publication for all involved in neighbourhood management issues.
Creating resilient local economies:exploring the economic footprint of public services
Creating local resilient economies, the public economy is the key source of local government economic power as it has influence via the various services it delivers or oversees, over procurement, supply chains, recruitment, training and employment practices. This research shows that for every £1 spent by a local council there is an economic return, proven by robust independent analysis, of £1.64 to the local economy.
The virtuous green circle: creating a revolving fund for local authority solar energy
There are huge potential opportunities in renewable energy and the private sector is already advanced in exploiting these opportunities. As funds are limited it is important that public sector bodies also wake up to the opportunities presented by schemes such as solar PV installation on public sector buildings, social housing and other assets. This research publication takes the reader through a step by step approach to developing a scheme, including the ability to create a ‘revolving fund’ to support further expansion of green energy supplies in your locality whilst allowing your authority to gain new green income.
Towards sustainable procurement for local authorities: Sustainable policy tool
As well as a research document this publication contains an interactive CD for you to use locally to help develop a more sustainable approach to procurement. Guiding you through safe ways to introduce community benefits, green issues, economic and social benefits in your procurement this practical tool is already being used by many local authorities. The written guidance which accompanies the CD acts as a ready-reference document and outlines the key policy determinants in creating and using a sustainable procurement approach within your own authority.
The localism and decentralisation bill: The views of APSE members on the proposed ‘community right to challenge’
This free to download e-publication explores the recent APSE survey work on the involvement of the third sector in public service delivery and the development of the ‘community right to challenge’ under the localism bill. This research publication covers the experiences and perceptions of APSE members including their involvement with third sector organisations in the delivery of public services, the need promote and safeguard sustainable local public services and the threats and opportunities presented by the localism bill. The research paper also finds that APSE members support a more collaborative approach to involvement in the third sector rather than a prescriptive approach to use a procurement route.
Avoiding the road to nowhere: Transforming front-line service delivery through efficiency and innovation
A guide to using efficiency and innovation to transform services, on which communities rely, has been launched by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) to support councils as they face severe budget cuts.
‘Avoiding the Road to Nowhere: Transforming front-line service delivery through efficiency and innovation’ brings together a series of briefings on how to deliver efficiency savings in front-line services, complete with case studies from across the UK.
Addressing your responsibilities under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010
You will be aware of the changes which are being introduced under the Flood and Water Management Act. Although the legislation is relevant only for English and Welsh councils, the messages within it are appropriate to Scottish and Northern Irish councils also. This e-publication is aimed at councillors and officers with responsibilities in the areas of drainage, emergency response, risk assessment, planning, flooding and water management.
It aims to provide an overview of the new legislation, describe the regional context and raise some issues for discussion and consideration by councils as they develop their arrangements for dealing with this agenda. Technical data is available from a number of websites noted in the paper.
The paper includes 6 case studies identifying the different approaches of councils in various elements of work linked to flooding and water management and these will be especially useful for those local authorities looking to learn from the good practice of others.
Rapid environmental impact assessment research report and toolkit
This latest research provides front line managers with a ‘Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Toolkit’ and was commissioned as part of the legacy of PS Net. The toolkit will help councils to assess the environmental impact of all projects, plans and policies, with the exception of those that are subject to the statutory framework. It is available in an editable format (Microsoft Word), is easy to use and is free of charge.
The toolkit contains 14 potential factors including air pollution, waste, noise, impact on the visual environment, energy and transport, and these factors are listed as a checklist. These are then scored on a scale of 1 to 10. It uses a traffic light system for each of these factors, which assess whether the project has a ‘positive’, ‘negative’ or neutral’ impact on each of these factors. It also contains a one-page summary sheet which can be used in cabinet reports as a useful aid in deciding whether to proceed with a particular project.
One size does not fit all: Attitudes and opinions towards service transformation in local government front line services: Research report number 1: Findings of the APSE service transformation survey 2010
This e-publication is free to download and contains information on the attitudes and perceptions of frontline service managers in local government faced with a service transformation agenda. The report also provides a brief analysis of the different approaches to service transformation including continuous improvement and performance management considerations. For more details about the report please contact Mo Baines on email@example.com . To download a PDF copy click here. To view in online in page flicker please click here.
There is also growing recognition that achieving maximum value for taxpayers’ money is not just about the highest financial value. Politicians and professionals are realising the need to achieve the ‘triple bottom line’ of the greatest economic, social and environmental benefit for every pound.
Using community benefits in procurement can be one of the most effective ways of ensuring the £175 billion spent on public sector procurement in the U.K. can have wider social, environmental and economic benefits than the object of the procurement itself. It is about adding value and unlocking potential. It is about supporting local economies, promoting employment, skills and training, developing communities and minimising environmental damage.
Our new research report written in partnership with CLES explores barriers to achieving community benefits in procurement, ways around those barriers both legislative and policy based, and identifies a number of case study authorities who have successfully integrated community benefits into their procurement strategies. To purchase ‘More bang for the public buck: Achieving community benefits in procurement’ download an order form here. £20 for APSE members and £40 for non members.
Under one Roof - the holistic benefits of retained council housing
This new document provides a range of information, policy context, survey results, case studies and views from officers, members and tenants about the wider benefits of retained council housing above and beyond the provision of homes. It discusses the links between a number of topics such as housing and health, educational attainment, social care, economic development and environmental issues. Housing is vital to promote local government’s aims of creating safe, sustainable, cohesive and thriving places where people want to live and the role of council housing is essential to meet this agenda.
The document will be useful for officers from a range of services, councillors, tenants and residents.
To purchase 'Under one roof - the holistic benefits of retained council housing' download an order form here. £20 for APSE members, £40 for non-members.
An elected member guide to performance management
'An elected member guide to performance management’ forms the latest APSE research guide. This new pamphlet provides a no jargon approach to issues of performance management and includes useful reference charts setting out key stages when reviewing services and how they have performed in a handy A5 size format. Click here to download order the form.
Insourcing: A guide to bringing local authority services back in-house
APSE’s latest research ‘Insourcing: A guide to bringing local authority services back in-house’ explores the growing trend of local authorities insourcing services that have previously been outsourced. Looking at the pragmatic reasons that councils have taken to return services to in-house provision this publication looks at a number of issues. It demonstrates the benefits that can be achieved from insourcing. These include: better performance; increased public satisfaction; greater value for money; efficiency savings; responding positively to changing policies and challenges; joining up services coherently at neighbourhood level; helping meet strategic goals, such as tackling climate change; and boosting local employment and economic development.
APSE’s umbrella campaign in Local Services: Local Solutions
We have produced our opening pamphlet on 'What's the * * * * * * * council ever done for me?' can be downloaded free of charge by clicking here.
APSE has also produced a range of publications over the past twelve months about cutting edge issues in local government. These research publications have been produced by our research partnership which includes APSE, INLOGOV ( the Institute for Local Government studies at Birmingham University) and CLES (Centre for Local Economic Strategies). Our research publications include:
- ‘Towards a future for public employment’ which explores the critical role of public employment in a transforming public sector
- ‘Governance, neighbourhoods and service delivery’ which explores the concept of neighbourhoods as a panacea in the current policy context of public service transformation
- ‘Creating resilient local economies: exploring the economic footprint of public services’ which looks at how council spending and employment of local people can help provide a beneficial economic return to the local economy.
For details on bulk purchases ( 10 or more copies) for management groups or trade unions please email Mo Baines on firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are interested in commissioning research from APSE please email email@example.com. APSE and CLES are also able to offer a new service to local authorities looking at how they are able to explore the economic footprint of the local authority within their own area, using the methodology adopted within our research publication on ‘Creating resilient local economies’. For details of this new service please email Mark Bramah on firstname.lastname@example.org