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Local housing, community living: prospects for scaling up and scaling out community-led housing

By Andrew Heywood

Published January 2016. Price £9.99

This 62 page report (based on 45 interviews, surveys and in-depth research and discussions) highlights how community-led housing schemes have successfully met the needs and aspirations of local groups and communities. The research reveals that developments are innovative, have environmentally sustainable design, built to high standards, pay close attention to local housing need and most importantly, are affordable. And as new development starts and ends with local people, rather than profits and share prices, local concerns about building new homes can be allayed.

The report also outlines how the advantages and attractiveness of the sector go beyond bricks and mortar. Most developments make provision for local services such as shops and pubs, and create open spaces. Local groups also involve themselves in training and job creation, and some work to reduce crime and promote community cohesion.

Despite the advantages the sector has to offer, it remains small, with only limited government support - the decision not to renew the Empty Homes Community Grants Programme (EHCGP) was a significant setback. However, there is scope for the sector to expand steadily. Whilst growth is likely to be organic and shaped by local circumstances, the report concludes if community-led housing is to move from the margins to the mainstream (without comprising its core value) more needs to be done.

Click here to view full report

Click here to view the summary report

10 million missing voters! A briefing report on the failings of the new electoral registration system

By Jane Thomas

November 2015

Electoral registration underpins our democratic system. Yet, with several elections and an EU referendum on the horizon as many as 10 million people may not be registered to vote – around 20 per cent of the UK’s total electorate.

Changes to the voter registration system mean people must now be registered individually, rather than the previous system of household registration. The problem is that millions are already not registered and unless urgent reforms are made to the new registration system millions more will drop off the list.

The switch to individual voter registration is falling short of expectations and time is fast running out. From December 1st 2015 the new electoral registers based solely on those registered individually comes into force and anyone not transferred over will not be able to vote. Such a scale of disenfranchised voters (combined with the proposed changes to MPs’ constituency boundaries) will affect the outcome of future elections, especially in urban areas.

This paper demonstrates the need to rethink voter registration. The government may well see electoral advantage in turning a blind eye to the crisis. On past voting patterns the Conservative party is clearly less affected than the other major parties by the fall in voter registration. However, what is at stake here is not just the prospect of party political advantage but the integrity and value of the democratic process.

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Is the public sector on the brink of a major recruitment crisis?

The Smith Institute and REC

November 2015

This new survey by the Institute and the Recruitment & Employment Confederation of employment agencies (in health, social care, local government and education) shows that our public services are on the brink of a major recruitment crisis. The survey highlights the difficulties in recruiting staff, especially highly skilled and experienced workers, and predictions from most that the situation will get worse.

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High aspirations, sound foundations: a discussion report on the centre-ground case for building 100,000 new public homes

By John Healey MP

Published September 2015

In a new report, 'High aspirations, sound foundations' John Healey MP kicks off a debate about the urgent social housing crisis facing Britain. The analysis shows there are viable alternatives to the government's expensive housing policies. The report sets out how Labour can revive social housing and reduce the needlessly costly housing benefit bill.

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From pay squeeze to a staffing crisis: a study of recruitment and retention in the NHS and local government

The Smith Institute

Published June 2015

This study and survey is intended to inform the on-going debate about the impact of the pay squeeze on the recruitment and retention of staff in the NHS and local government. It offers a review and commentary on what is happening, based around the views and opinions of HR professionals.

Employment practices and HR management in the NHS and local government varies, and is shaped by a range of factors – including the type of public service and location. Furthermore, pay rates and recruitment and retention issues are different for different grades and different functions. However, both NHS and local government staff have been affected by the pay squeeze, which has seen wages in the public sector fall relative to those in the private sector.

Up-to-date information and data on recruitment and retention in the public services are not always readily available. It is particularly difficult, for example, to access information on how organisations, like NHS Trusts, view the impact of fiscal austerity and the pay squeeze on recruitment and retention. Much of the hard data is historical and often fails to capture the full labour market and organisational impacts, for instance on workloads and morale. Issues such as confidentiality, financial pressures, competition for certain staff and local factors also make it difficult to identify sector-wide (and cross-sector) trends. We therefore hope that the report at least adds to the evidence and gives some useful insights into the challenges facing all those involved with recruitment and retention in the NHS and local government.

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Full speed ahead: connecting our cities and regions

The Smith Institute and PwC

Published June 2015

The ability to move efficiently, conveniently and reliably from place to place is something we all demand. We rely on our transport system to get us from A to B and to provide us with the goods and services we need. However, the transport system is under immense strain. Traffic congestion has increased and capacity on major rail routes is stretched. The problems are expected to get worse as demand increases, especially in our major cities and their surrounding hinterlands. The solutions are neither quick nor cheap, but as this Talking Points report makes clear, failure to invest in a more integrated and better connected transport network will leave UK plc at a distinct competitive disadvantage.

To find out more about the scale of the issue, and explore what can be done to improve connectivity between our cities and regions, the Smith Institute and PwC ran a series of roundtables in five major cities to hear the views of transport practitioners, experts and decision makers from the cities and city-regions themselves.

These views are captured in this Talking Points publication. It offers a snapshot of current opinion and, most importantly, makes suggestions as to what could be done to improve connectivity within and between the UK’s cities and regions.

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Red alert: why Labour lost and what needs to change

By Paul Hunter

Published July 2015

This new report places the spotlight on why Labour lost the election and what might need to change. The report highlights which seats Labour lost, who turned their back on Labour and what issues the party was weakest on. It also sets out what some of the policy implications of the defeat might be, not least in regard to age, class and place.

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Delivering growth: Where next for Local Enterprise Partnerships?

The Smith Institute and PwC

Published June 2015

Against the backdrop of political change and economic recovery, this ‘Talking Points’ report puts the spotlight on “where next” for the 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in England. By capturing the views of LEP representatives and their partners the intention is to identify a common agenda and inform and stimulate the debate about the future of the LEPs.

Based on 22 interviews with LEP leaders it highlights the main priorities and obstacles facing the LEPs over the next five years, in particular around their capacity and capability to deliver on their ambitions. 

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Working together – thinking alike: What do councils and local enterprise partnerships expect from housing associations?

By Andrew Heywood

Published June 2015

This new report places the spotlight on fast changing the relationship between local authorities and housing associations, which is increasingly under strain. Welfare reform, reductions in housing grant and plans to extend Right to Buy mean historic relationships between housing associations and local authorities must change if they are to continue to effectively support their communities and build much-needed affordable homes. The report sets out recommendations on how to strengthen the relationship with local authorities and how to build new ones with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).

Click here to view

Who governs Britain – a profile of MPs in the 2015 parliament

By Paul Hunter and Dan Holden

Published May 2015

What is the background of the MPs in the new Parliament? What is their education and occupational profile, gender and age? And, how have these trends changed since 2010? This analysis of MPs in the 2015 Parliament addresses these questions and shows how far our elected politicians reflect wider society. Click here to view

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