Introducing the LPIP Hub Research Programme

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The Local Policy Innovation Partnership (LPIP) project launch took place on Tuesday 27 February 2024. Over the next three years, the LPIP Strategic Coordination Hub will work with Local Policy Innovation Partnerships (LPIPs) to understand and solve local challenges around the UK through an innovative service-driven approach to place-based policymaking and public service delivery.

The research programme aims to develop an understanding of place-based policies and use insights into the local partnerships’ experiences to contribute to academic debates on place and place-based policies. But what does this mean in practice? In this blog, Dr Abigail Taylor outlines some of the initial activities that form part of the research workstream of the Hub. 

What makes partnerships work in practice? 

Researchers at City-REDI along with the Hub Delivery Team partners, and supported by the Hub Board, are developing activities and outputs focused on adding to the knowledge base on what makes partnerships work in practice and deliver innovative solutions for place – in particular:  

  1. how to build confidence, capability and capacity in place which can be applied to tackling complex challenges and achieving positive outcomes,  
  1. how collaborative capability is understood and appreciated in different places and can be enabled to achieve change in complex local systems (looking at different complex ecosystems and what works in each e.g. in terms of governance structures and bodies), and  
  1. how effective policies need multiple parts of local systems to work together (e.g. by joining up across policy domains) to achieve intended outcomes.  

This will entail ‘lifting the lid’ on partnership-working to investigate what enables partnerships to be effective in achieving a positive impact locally.  

We will investigate what the local partnerships’ experiences tell us about (1) what incentives and structures are needed for successful partnerships to work; and (2) what the optimal relationship between sub-national and national levels is in terms of freedom to innovate locally and so that the national level can build enough scaffolding to be supportive while not hampering local developments. 

Given that the LPIPs vary by geography and thematic focus, we hope to gain insights into a range of approaches and challenges and develop learning to support future local partnership design. What lessons can be learned from across the LPIP partnerships? How do needs vary? How does the role of key partners differ across the LPIPs? What are the key similarities? To what extent do places have sufficient capacity? What are the challenges of the current system and opportunities to develop it? What could be achieved with greater capacity/ stronger linkages across partners? Understanding the role of context in terms of the benefits of different governance structures and the relationships between them (multi-level, formal/informal, hard and soft spaces) will be important in gaining insights into which governance structures are appropriate and where.  

Evidence reviews  

The City-REDI team is currently developing Evidence Reviews on each of the seven LPIP themes: 

  • local economic performance 
  • living and working sustainably in a greener economy 
  • innovation 
  • skills 
  • communities in their places 
  • felt experiences 
  • cultural recovery

The reviews are designed to synthesise key evidence and policy questions relating to each of the LPIP themes. We want to set out concisely the ‘state of the art’ in terms of policy and academic debates and identify ‘burning issues’ going forward for each theme. Each review takes an explicit place focus. Questions that each review will consider include: 

  • What are the key concepts? How can these be defined? 
  • Which national and local policies are most relevant for each theme? 
  • What do we know about the differential capacity of places for local policy innovation in that theme? 
  • Which place-based interventions have been implemented in that theme and what were the outcomes? How have, or can, partnerships drive responses to challenges? 
  • What can we learn from international examples of local policy partnerships developed to respond to key challenges? 

As part of the reviews, we are engaging widely with organisations and individuals leading the agenda on each of the themes to find out about innovative examples of good practice, connect with other similar initiatives/ investments to support learning and avoid duplication. We are exploring projects and programmes implemented at different geographical scales from neighbourhood to local to Combined Authorities and national organisations. The initiatives include those focused on urban and rural areas as well as those covering complex geographies. 

Blogs, webinars, podcasts and more! 

Alongside the evidence reviews, we will be producing a series of blogs, webinars and podcasts. Designed for policymaker, practitioner and academic audiences, these activities will share learning from the evidence reviews and enable more detailed insights on specific aspects and issues. For example, we will look to bring together practitioners and academics who have previously led place-based partnerships to reflect on what worked and did not work in their projects and programmes. We will showcase examples of innovative practice. 

This blog was written by Dr Abigail Taylor, Research Fellow, City-REDI, University of Birmingham.

The views expressed in this analysis post are those of the author and not necessarily those of City-REDI or the University of Birmingham.

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