New ESRC awards to support social science advice for local policy

Awards made under a new pilot Local Acceleration Fund (LAF) including to a University of Glasgow-led project will support researchers to work in partnership with local areas across the length and breadth of the UK.

The 11 awards, totalling nearly 1 million, will support meaningful collaboration between researchers and local authorities, charities and businesses and will address policy priorities that make a difference to local areas, including net-zero, local economic growth and levelling up.

For University of Glasgow, a project entitled Children, Learning and Inclusive Places (CLIP) led by Professor Chris Chapman based at the School of Education has been awarded 111,000.

The project builds on existing partnerships the University of Glasgow and Queens University Belfast. It will evaluate community engagement practices and, evaluate impact and practice in deprived communities to help improve local policy related to children, place and the environment. The project will enable inclusive and locally owned strategies to address enduring economic social challenges for communities.

Professor Chapman said: -We are delighted to receive this ESRC investment to further enhance the impact of our work across the social sciences and strengthen our collaboration on social change with Queens University Belfast. Our interdisciplinary, place-based approach and participatory methods underpin our commitment to high quality research that makes a difference to children and their families- The Local Acceleration Fund highlights the critical role of the social sciences in understanding and addressing a variety of complex local challenges.

Learnings from the fund will inform ESRC’s future approach to investing in locally focussed projects that enhance opportunities for collaboration and improve access to research, evidence, data and social science expertise to inform local policy making.

The six-month pilot projects will complete in summer 2022.

Professor Alison Park, Interim Executive Chair of ESRC said: -We are delighted to announce funding for 11 pilot projects, which will demonstrate the breadth and relevance of social science research to the UK-s place-based challenges.

-These projects demonstrate the critical role that collaboration and co-creation play in bringing together complex local challenges with social science expertise in order to make a difference in local communities.

-The Local Acceleration Fund will inform ESRC’s next steps in supporting social scientists to collaborate with local stakeholders, including local authorities, charities and businesses, through people, partnerships and research.-

About the Local Acceleration Fund (LAF)

The primary aim of the Local Acceleration Fund (LAF) is to catalyse social science evidence-driven local insight which can inform actionable policy solutions that impact local lives, communities and economies, by facilitating connectivity, collaboration and capability building across stakeholders.

The LAF is a pilot programme which supports ESRC Impact Acceleration Accounts to:

  • The programme enables researchers and local stakeholders to conduct activities essential to effective local research and public policy partnership working at a local level.
  • The LAF aims to support locally focussed research and knowledge exchange activity built on meaningful collaboration between researchers and public policy stakeholders.
  • By supporting research organisations, researchers and stakeholders to pilot approaches ESRC is ensuring that future activity is informed by in-practice experience in the social sciences.