Wakefield Metropolitan District Council (Wakefield MDC) is a local authority in West Yorkshire, serving a population of over 315,000 (2001 Census). The Council’s Family Services Directorate is working to provide fully-integrated service and support for families within their communities.
Although Wakefield MDC is not driven by profits or sales, as a public sector organisation it needs to ensure that it achieves value for money and offers the best possible services to members of the public. The Council therefore embarked on a collaborative KTP project with the University of York to increase the research mindedness of its Family Services Directorate, making fuller use of research to promote efficiencies in service delivery and staff development. The project also involved implementing the Research Governance Framework (RGF) more fully.
The KTP project enabled Wakefield Family Services to become established as a research-minded organisation. We can demonstrate continual improvements to services and efficiency gains. This continues to be evident after the project has ceased.
Angela Liversedge, Performance Improvement Manager
The collaboration has produced excellent results for all parties involved, delivering measurable improvements within Wakefield MDC Family Services. At the start of the project, a benchmarking exercise identified key outcome measures in respect of the use of research and adherence to the RGF, and revealed how Wakefield MDC compared with other local authorities.
Through knowledge transfer the Organisation is now positioned more favourably, with robust RGF procedures in place ensuring research is 'safe' and not duplicated. Research is firmly embedded in the Council’s performance management framework, with systems to enable and support research working well, and effecting a culture shift within the Organisation towards researchmindedness. Moreover, research is being used systematically alongside other data sources to inform service planning and continuous improvement.
A survey towards the end of the project revealed that staff feel that research has helped them to make effective decisions, improving service planning and delivery, and leading to better outcomes for service users at the same or lower cost.
The European Social Fund (ESF) supports national employment and skills priorities, in line with EU regulations by helping unemployed and inactive people enter work, promoting lifelong learning, skills development and gender equality.