A survey carried out by the Social Services Research Group into local government research capacity has shown councils are cutting back. The research was produced by the Personal Social Services Research Unit at the London School of Economics and Political Science with support from the NIHR School for Social Care Research. The findings reveal:
- About one fifth of respondents had ‘research’ in their job title, but only 8% worked on research fulltime.
- There was widespread agreement that Adult Social Care (ASC) departments encouraged the use of
research evidence to inform policy.
- Predictive modelling was identified as the area of greatest need for skills development.
- Over a third (36%) of respondents indicated their local authority commissioned ‘external’ research.
- Two-fifths (39%) of respondents confirmed the existence of Research Governance arrangement and one third (33%) indicated that there was a local Research Governance lead.
- There was a local authority preference for on-line learning and much less support for secondment or
study for academic qualifications in relation to developing research skills.
- Respondents were members of a wide range of organisations, most commonly SSRG and LARIA, but
few reported being able to attend events, despite valuing them as a means of accessing evidence.
- Participants felt that while research had become more important, austerity policies had particularly
affected the capacity to undertake this work.
- The survey suggests the need for a national review of local authority research, to identify core functions and workforce requirements.