I’ve talked to a number of officers and directors in local government since starting as Head of Outreach in January. A common refrain was that individuals and teams in economic development are incredibly short on time.
In response, we developed short Lunch and Learn sessions to give an overview of the evidence about particular economic growth topics. We’d also noticed how many questions were asked during our Covid Recovery webinars last year, so half of the Lunch and Learn session is dedicated to giving people time to ask questions.
The Lunch and Learn series is a trial over the spring– five sessions of 45 minutes, each on a different topic. It’s a great example of how we’ve heard about a common barrier from those in local government and have tailored our resources to address it.
We know there is more we can do to support local economic development teams to improve use of evidence and impact evaluation in their policies and projects. However, we don’t have a comprehensive picture of the current practices of those working in economic development, or the barriers they are facing.
To address that, we currently have a survey out for anyone working in economic development in a local authority, combined authority or LEP.
We want to hear from everyone from exec directors of growth to economic development officers, heads of skills, analysts in research teams, and bid writers working in project management offices.
Our refreshed outreach to local policymakers builds on the work of the Early Intervention Foundation, another What Works Centre, looking at people’s capability, opportunity and motivation.
Our survey asks about capability—people’s knowledge and confidence in evidence and evaluation use, opportunity—such as whether there is the budget or team resource to do the work, and motivation—including whether there is appetite from decisionmakers to invest in analysing the evidence base or carrying out evaluations.
We realise that people within an authority may have different experiences of current work and barriers around their capability, opportunity and motivation, so we would encourage you to share it with your wider team as well.
We’ll continue to adapt and refine our support to those working in local and central government, but we need to hear from them to do so. If you work within local government, we’d welcome your input.
The survey takes 10-15 minutes and is open until 13 May.