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Association for Public Service Excellence
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Current Research Programme

Hollowed out: The impact of financial localisation on neighbourhood services
Hollowed out: The impact of financial localisation on neighbourhood services

In collaboration with the New Policy Institute (NPI), APSE's latest report considers the propspects for the 'neighbourhood services' provided by local government. 

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APSE & LACA survey on school meal uptakes 2017-18
APSE & LACA survey on school meal uptakes 2017-18

APSE are currently working with LACA to develop a State of the Nation report on the impact of Universal Free School Meals. This report will be used to inform government bodies of the impact of the policy on your behalf.

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The new municipalism: Taking back entrepreneurship
The new municipalism: Taking back entrepreneurship

APSE’s latest research examines the initiatives and the emerging practices of municipal entrepreneurialism.

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Taking a commercial approach: A guide for local councils in Scotland to income generation, trading and charging
Taking a commercial approach: A guide for local councils in Scotland to income generation, trading and charging

Reliance on ever decreasing central funding for local councils means stark choices; cut services or find other ways to meet these on-going challenges. That is why APSE Scotland commissioned this guide for our member local councils to explore the dynamics of commercialisation in local government.

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Doing local politics supplementary report - Centre and locality in Scottish politics
Doing local politics supplementary report - Centre and locality in Scottish politics

In 2017, we completed an APSE study of the work and world of the councillor and interconnected worlds of the council officer and the engaged citizen. Having been concerned then with horizontal relations between those who do politics at local level, we were asked to investigate the vertical relationships between local councillors and national politics in Holyrood and Westminster. Recent national and local elections have changed the political landscape in some areas of Scotland, and new political relationships are being forged at national and local levels as well as between them. We have therefore created a supplementary piece of research based on six interviews: two with MSPs, of whom one was a constituency MSP and the other a regional MSP, and four with local councillors. This supplementary paper is therefore intended to provide a further dynamic to the original report and take account of the emerging political landscape in Scotland.

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Delivering affordable homes in a changing world: Ensuring councils can meet local housing need
Delivering affordable homes in a changing world: Ensuring councils can meet local housing need

The latest research from APSE and the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) finds that a lack of investment in genuine affordable housing alongside deregulation of planning is reducing local authorities’ ability to secure the homes the nation needs.

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Bringing order to chaos: How does local government hold to account agencies delivering public services?
Bringing order to chaos: How does local government hold to account agencies delivering public services?

Research published by APSE and written and researched by the Local Governance Research Unit at De Montfort University finds that as public service provision continues to be fragmented, diverse and largely unaccountable to the local public, local councils, as the only democratically elected institutions at a local level, are best placed to make sure that local networks are harnessed to ensure all actors and agencies are working in the best interests of the local area.

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Strong public support for housing safety inspections to be in the hands of local councils
Strong public support for housing safety inspections to be in the hands of local councils

A new poll by APSE and Survation shows that the public are almost three times more likely to support local councils being responsible for local Buildings Inspections work rather than private inspectors

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Accountability and scrutiny: The issues for local government in a changing political environment
Accountability and scrutiny: The issues for local government in a changing political environment

This report by APSE and the Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS) examines the role of good governance and scrutiny, highlighting how this is critical to the local government decision-making process.

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Governing in and against austerity: International lessons from eight cities
Governing in and against austerity: International lessons from eight cities

This international research study conducted as a collaborative approach led by De Montfort University explores responses to austerity in leading European Cities analysing responses and the impact of austerity policies at a municipal level.

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The impact of devolution upon frontline services
The impact of devolution upon frontline services

Research by APSE and CLES explores the impact that devolution in England is having upon the provision and delivery of frontline services in local government.

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Doing local politics in Scotland: Councillors, officers and communities
Doing local politics in Scotland: Councillors, officers and communities

This new research for APSE Scotland focuses on the three worlds of local politics – that of the citizen, the council officer, and the councillor – and is interested in exploring what it takes to do politics in each of these worlds. Each entail different kinds of political work, which is undertaken on different terms and conditions. However, it is clear that these worlds only make sense in relation to one another.

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Bricks – Mortar – Money
Bricks – Mortar – Money

The latest report from APSE and CIPFA explores the impact of property investment as a potential means of securing an additional and sustainable source of revenue for local authorities.

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Building homes, creating communities: Ensuring councils provide innovative solutions to meeting housing need
Building homes, creating communities: Ensuring councils provide innovative solutions to meeting housing need

The latest research from APSE and the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) reveals a desperate housing crisis, with councils warning of ‘severe’ need for affordable housing.

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Redefining Neighbourhoods: Beyond austerity?
Redefining Neighbourhoods: Beyond austerity?

This report, by APSE and the New Policy Institute (NPI) explores the impact of austerity on neighbourhood services, and warns of the consequences of this continuing downward trajectory in funding which risks falling to a 60-year low.

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Ways forward: Alternatives to merging councils in Wales
Ways forward: Alternatives to merging councils in Wales

A look at the alternatives available for the Welsh Assembly Government to create a more flexible and fluid system within which councils can construct arrangements for joint-working and co-operation which suited their specific needs

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Neighbourhood Services: The public want more of their taxes spent in local areas
Neighbourhood Services: The public want more of their taxes spent in local areas

Collaborative research by APSE and Survation shows that the majority of the public would prefer the Government to invest in local areas.

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Work it out: Creating local systems of employability support
Work it out: Creating local systems of employability support

This collaborative research between APSE and New Local government Network (NLGN) looks at the role that local government can play to support employability in their local areas.

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The engine of the council? Evaluating frontline productivity in local government
The engine of the council? Evaluating frontline productivity in local government

New research, developed by Public Intelligence and APSE, highlights the importance of productivity in today's economy. It focuses on how local authority frontline services have managed to increase their productivity in recent years, despite any recent hardships.

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Working at the frontline of austerity: The Ensuring Council and Workforce Planning
Working at the frontline of austerity: The Ensuring Council and Workforce Planning

This report argues that effective workforce planning can help to future-proof public service delivery by opening up a collective dialogue about the future shape and scope of public service, and the role of local employees and communities.

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Homes for All!
Homes for All!

A new report on housing need in the UK published by APSE and the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) calls for urgent Government action to deliver the homes needed in the UK.  The report finds that despite ambitions to build one million homes by 2020, current housing policy is in disarray and much more needs to be done to deliver the desperately needed new homes.

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Sustainable local government finance and liveable local areas: Can we survive to 2020?
Sustainable local government finance and liveable local areas: Can we survive to 2020?

By 2020, the combined current and capital spending by UK local government will be lower than at any time since before 1948, finds new research from APSE and NPI.‘Sustainable local government finance and liveable local areas: Can we survive to 2020?’ reveals that many of the things which local authorities in the UK have taken for granted for decades will be gone by 2020.

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APSE Scotland Solar PV Toolkit
APSE Scotland Solar PV Toolkit

This Toolkit comes out in testing times for the green agenda and the renewables industry across the United Kingdom. Whilst there would appear to be difficulties as a result of national policy direction and the financial circumstances of local authorities, a longer-term perspective would suggest that now is the time for local government to expand its solar aspirations and this document seeks to help local authorities in Scotland to make good strategic and operational decisions that will serve them well in the future.

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The final piece of the jigsaw: Elected members, everyday politics and local democracy in Scotland
The final piece of the jigsaw: Elected members, everyday politics and local democracy in Scotland

APSE’s latest piece of research, commissioned by APSE Scotland and produced by a collaborative team from Edinburgh University, Leeds Beckett University and De Montfort University, engages with ongoing debates over the future of elected members and local democracy in Scotland.

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Park Life, Street Life: Managing demand in the public realm
Park Life, Street Life: Managing demand in the public realm

New research from two leading local government think tanks has found that whilst 93% of local councils are reporting cuts to street scene and public realm budgets there is still and urgent need for councils to adopt different approaches to cope with the budget cuts.

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Municipal Energy: Ensuring councils plan, manage and deliver on local energy
Municipal Energy: Ensuring councils plan, manage and deliver on local energy

After a gap of many decades, local authorities are getting involved in the generation and provision of energy. Councils across the UK are embracing renewable energy schemes with positive outcomes for local residents, businesses and for their own budgets. Not only are local energy schemes having a positive impact on energy pricing, helping to address fuel poverty, but they are also tackling local economic issues. This research shows that there is a renaissance in local energy.

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Waste: A brave new world
Waste: A brave new world

With significant pressures facing local government waste services, and 79% of APSE members reporting a further squeeze on waste and recycling budgets, a timely new research publication has been released. ‘Waste: A brave new world’ explores the pressures on budgets and looks across the UK at how local authorities are responding to new and existing pressures on waste and recycling services.

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Ensuring action on health and wellbeing
Ensuring action on health and wellbeing

APSE latest research publication ‘Ensuring action on health and wellbeing’ explores the national framework for public health in England, the responsibilities of local authorities and the requirement to gather local health intelligence to guide commissioning decisions. The report also examines the opportunities that exist for catering and sport and leisure services to contribute to health and well-being within this new framework. It focuses in particular on the potential for interventions  by front-line services in tackling obesity and promoting physical activity.

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Housing the Nation: Ensuring Councils can deliver more and better homes
Housing the Nation: Ensuring Councils can deliver more and better homes

APSE and the TCPA have called for a radical new approach to renew the quality and availability of social housing in the UK. Following publication of a joint research report ‘Housing the Nation: Ensuring councils can deliver more and better homes’ they argue that by investing in social housing the new Government can help to create a basis for social housing renewal, and bring jobs, skills and regeneration to local communities. With recommendations for councils to be at the heart of a new build programme, facilitated changes to funding, planning and S.106 development rules as well as reviewing ‘Right to Buy’ this research publication is a timely and essential report to contribute to the debate on housing renewal.

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What is Eco and Green Deal? A guide for local authorities
What is Eco and Green Deal? A guide for local authorities

Energy efficiency experts, YES Energy Solutions and APSE have developed a handy 'how to' guide for Local Authorities to learn about the benefits of introducing ECO and Green Deal initiatives.

The main purpose of the Guide is to strip down all the confusing technical jargon and simply explain how ECO and Green Deal work, what each scheme is trying to achieve and how Local Authorities can get involved. It's fair to say that ECO and Green Deal have become something of a minefield since their launch in 2013. There has been a lot of noise made about these flagship Government initiatives, but do Local Authorities really know what they are all about and how they could use them to cut CO2 and reduce fuel poverty? To find the answer you can download this FREE guide on the link below.

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Retail energy policies in Britain: Towards 2020
Retail energy policies in Britain: Towards 2020

The policy issue of retail domestic energy in the UK has taken on a very high media profile over the past few years. A number of separate, but related issues have coalesced into making domestic energy bills a front line political agenda item. The legislative needs of agreed CO2 emission reductions, when combined with domestic housing stock conditions has meant keeping homes warm is not a cheap option.

Yet whilst domestic energy usage has fallen by over 6% average dual fuel domestic energy bills have risen by over 70% in under a decade.

This FREE to download publication explores the political, policy and practical implications of retail energy pricing.

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The future of elected members in Scotland
The future of elected members in Scotland

The changing demands, requirements and expectations of the office of the councillor, like those of local government, are once again under scrutiny in Scotland. This 2014 study 'The future role of elected members in Scotland' surveys the beliefs and attitudes of elected members across Scotland. The survey generated returns from approximately 10 per cent of the 1222 councillors across the 32 authorities in Scotland. To supplement these returns, the survey was followed by a half-day focus group with elected members.

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Two Tribes? Exploring the future role of elected members
Two Tribes? Exploring the future role of elected members

A new APSE research publication ‘Two Tribes? Exploring the future role of elected members’ has revealed sharp contrasts in attitudes between those in decision-making and 'backbench' roles.  This new research study describes the existence of 'two tribes' among local politicians - with opinions on matters including local government political structures and capacity to improve services split according to roles rather than political persuasion.

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Better business: Councils shaping markets for public value
Better business: Councils shaping markets for public value

In a new research report ‘Better business: Councils shaping markets for public value’, which was commissioned by APSE and written by NLGN, the organisations argue that whilst local businesses can bring valuable social, environmental, and economic benefits to local places, some private sector markets are failing to meet social needs and creating negative outcomes relating to ill health, financial vulnerability, and poor educational attainment which are picked up by local public services. Whilst national governments have a clear role to play in fixing these, local intervention can be preferable, or complementary, to a wider national approach.

The report provides a range of positive recommendations to enable councils to nudge or ‘budge’ business towards more socially responsible products and business practices.

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Ensuring Change: Building capacity in local government
Ensuring Change: Building capacity in local government

This latest APSE research ‘Ensuring Change: Building capacity in local government’ produced in association with Public Intelligence explores how, in spite of the current economic conditions, councils remain as the ‘engine room’ of their localities.

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Ensuring Collaboration: One way ahead for public-private partnerships
Ensuring Collaboration: One way ahead for public-private partnerships

‘Ensuring Collaboration: One way ahead for public-private partnerships’ aims to stimulate further discussion over how elected members, local government officers and public service providers can work collectively to manage change and transformation in public-private partnerships.

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Local Water: The challenge and the prize for the ensuring council as a steward of water
Local Water: The challenge and the prize for the ensuring council as a steward of water

A new report has been published by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE), which demonstrates how councils can be effective local water stewards. 

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Ensuring health and well-being: a self-assessment tool for health and well-being boards
Ensuring health and well-being: a self-assessment tool for health and well-being boards

APSE, in association with De Montfort University as part of the KTP programme, has produced a self-assessment toolkit to help health and well-being boards navigate their way through complex issues and find solutions that suit local circumstances. Following the transfer of responsibilities for public health under the Health and Social Care Act 2012, boards now face important strategic decisions. The toolkit has been designed to help them.

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The role and value of local authority assets in town centres
The role and value of local authority assets in town centres

Local authority assets can play a major part in revitalising the UK's ailing town centres, but this is being overlooked in current national policy, according to a report published today by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE).

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Innovation on the frontline
Innovation on the frontline

This report is based on research, undertaken in partnership between APSE and IPPR North, to explore ways in which local authorities can harness the best ideas of their workforce in order to use innovation to improve services.

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The Road to 2020: A manifesto for the Ensuring Council
The Road to 2020: A manifesto for the Ensuring Council

Unprecedented financial problems coupled with demographic and environmental pressures call for a fundamental rethink of what the future role of local government should be and how effective services can be provided in the next decade and beyond.

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Stronger resource efficiency for desirable communities
Stronger resource efficiency for desirable communities

In these times of austerity it is important that councils maximise sustainable benefits from their assets to ensure ‘value for money’, in all sense of the phrase, for local communities. This is why the concept of ‘resource efficiency’ becomes so critical.

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The Ensuring Council: An alternative vision for the future of local government
The Ensuring Council: An alternative vision for the future of local government

As local authorities strive to address the impacts on their communities of the economic downturn and reductions in public spending, a debate is taking place about alternative visions of the future shape of local government itself.

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Proof of delivery: A review of the role of co-ops and mutuals in local public service provision
Proof of delivery: A review of the role of co-ops and mutuals in local public service provision

A review of the role of co-operatives and mutuals in local public service provision. The interest in using co-ops and mutuals to deliver public services has never been greater – not least because of the Government’s commitment to creating a ‘Big Society’ through introducing a greater diversity of public service providers.

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Municipal Entrepreneurship
Municipal Entrepreneurship

A criticism aimed at the public sector by its detractors is that it is monolithic, bureaucratic and incapable of change. This report sets out to challenge this myth by demonstrating that innovation and entrepreneurship is alive and well in local government and rather than being a rare commodity, it is flourishing in local authorities up and down the country.

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Shared services and collaborative working in a Welsh context: Applying theory to practice
Shared services and collaborative working in a Welsh context: Applying theory to practice

A report commissioned by APSE Wales, through APSE’s Knowledge Transfer Partnership with De Montfort University, that considers some of the practical issues involved in sharing services across local authority boundaries.

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The Ensuring Council: Governance, neighbourhoods and service delivery
The Ensuring Council: Governance, neighbourhoods and service delivery

With the economic recession having a devastating effect on communities, families and businesses and beginning to impact upon front-line local government services and the future prospects for public spending, the time is ripe to review many of the initiatives and developments that have been at the forefront of local government policy and legislation over the past few years.

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Exploring the social and economic benefits of renewable energy schemes
Powerful Impacts: Exploring the social and economic benefits of renewable energy schemes

APSE has been vociferous in highlighting ways to maximise the local economic benefit of public investment and promoting sustainable energy projects. This report is unique in bringing these two pressing agendas together and exploring the impact of renewable energy on local economies. At a time of austerity and recession, renewables and energy efficiency schemes represent a real opportunity to invest in local economic growth, with a government guaranteed funding mechanism.

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Insourcing: A guide to bringing local authority services back in house
Insourcing: A guide to bringing local authority services back in house

The word ‘outsourcing’ is common parlance in both the public and private sectors, but the practice of ‘insourcing’ has received relatively little attention. APSE embarked upon its examination of the trend towards insourcing – or returning to delivery of services by in-house providers – before the effects of the global economic downturn were fully evident.

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Insourcing update: The value of returning local authority services in-house in an era of budget constraints
Insourcing update: The value of returning local authority services in-house in an era of budget constraints

This research commissioned for UNISON gives the detailed evidence of major contracts being brought to an end and services coming back in-house, benefitting service users, workers, and council taxpayers alike. This report was written by APSE under a commission from UNISON and is free to download.  

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Promoting excellence in public services

APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) is a not for profit unincorporated association working with over 300 councils throughout the UK. Promoting excellence in public services, APSE is the foremost specialist in local authority frontline services, hosting a network for frontline service providers in areas such as waste and refuse collection, parks and environmental services, cemeteries and crematorium, environmental health, leisure, school meals, cleaning, housing and building maintenance.

           

 

          

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