Partnership projects with the University of Huddersfield

December 2019

Calderdale Council and the University of Huddersfield have completed a successful second year of innovative data projects.

The collaboration involved MBA and MSc students taking on a range of research projects using open data on Calderdale Dataworks, data from the Council’s Performance and Business Intelligence team, as well as new data generated by the students, allowing them to engage with local government services to provide a new perspective on some of the challenges faced.

Subjects covered this year include the impact of 30 hours free childcare funding, regional social work labour market analysis and maximising the number of licensed ceremonies performed in Calderdale.

The Council has benefited from the students’ insight and in-depth research, while the collaboration has increased students’ knowledge of local government services, providing them with professional experience, transferable skills and exposure to real-life issues.

Impact of 30 hours free childcare funding

From September 2017, the government has provided 30 hours free childcare to children of working parents. Students investigated the impact of this new offer on childcare provision in Calderdale, by analysing key datasets and gathering direct feedback from providers by way of interviews and surveys. They looked at how the new provision affected supply and demand of different kinds of provision, and analysed the relative strengths of different business models within Calderdale’s diverse childcare market.

The research identified different trends and adjustments in different kinds of settings, and made recommendations for further work around the support we can offer to childcare providers in understanding successful business models.

Regional social work labour market analysis

The project aimed to provide evidence to support the development of a regional labour market analysis which seeks to identify supply and demand issues within the social work workforce across West and North Yorkshire. The project had two elements:

  1. Identifying and understanding factors which may influence demand for social work in the future to assist local authorities with forecasting future workforce requirements;
  2. Improve understanding of the issues and challenges faced by Newly Qualified Social Workers (NQSW) in their first year in practice to inform future pre-qualifying academic and practice curriculum development and local authority support arrangements.

The students used statutory Children’s and Adults’ Social Care workforce data collections to identify trends in the supply of social workers and SSDA903 Children Looked After and Children in Need Census data alongside Short and Long Term Support data to help build a picture of demand in Children’s and Adults’ social care. They used future population estimates and identified 10 NQSWs who were in their first year of practice with Calderdale Council who could participate in the qualitative element of the research.

The students focussed on secondary research to understand the factors that affect the demand for social workers, which also informed the questions used during the qualitative research with NQSWs. The interviews were a very informative part of the research and helped identify factors for high staff turnover, such as: Level of preparedness; Expectation vs Reality; Job satisfaction/demand.

The recommendations focussed largely around the experience of the NQSWs and included: Pay and reward; manageable caseload/workload; positive support and communication from supervisors/peers; increase preparedness by Universities prioritising practical experience over theory and a campaign to highlight the positives to social work as a career choice. The findings of this research have been shared with the service lead and the Project Manager for the Yorkshire Urban & Rural Social Work Teaching Partnership, who plans to share this with partners.

Maximising the number of licensed ceremonies in Calderdale

This project was for students to develop a business case or plan to maximise the number of ceremonies performed each year across all venues and to conduct market research into innovative and creative approaches and look at future trends in the ceremonies offer for Registrar services. There was a focus on income generation for the Council; improving the offer to customers to use a wider range of licensed venues and on the types of ceremonies performed; more efficient use of existing buildings and venues; an enhanced awareness of new trends and areas of potential future growth in the ceremonies offer and how to raise the profile and reputation for licensed ceremonies in Calderdale venues.

The students produced individual reports and summary posters which identified current trends, opportunities and business challenges for the wedding ceremonies market in Calderdale, the sub-region and nationally using different business models. Each one included recommendations for the Council to consider on how to increase the number of ceremonies, strengthen existing customer loyalty and attract new customers through a range of actions including greater use of web and social media promotion, targeted marketing and offers, developing a new brand, high quality customer service, and systematic customer information collection.

Claire Broadbent – Performance and Business Intelligence Team Leader, Calderdale Council

“We were delighted to continue our collaboration with the University of Huddersfield into a second year. Our Vision for Calderdale in 2024 (which marks our 50th anniversary) is for a place where you can realise your potential whoever you are and to be a place where talent and enterprise can thrive. Clearly this innovative work with students meets these aims along with our ambition to become more intelligence led and make effective use of data to make evidence based decisions. We’re also committed to becoming open by default so it’s great to see the students making use of the wealth of open data published on Calderdale DataWorks and we thank them for their efforts.”

Dr Radi Haloub – Senior Lecturer in Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility and Consultancy Route Leader at the University of Huddersfield

“It has been a great pleasure to work with Calderdale Council. The focus of these projects is to engage Huddersfield Business School, represented by academics, MSc and MBA students, in activities with local authorities and businesses. It provided societal and economic benefits and demonstrated students’ involvement in knowledge exchange activities. This is embedded in our School’s mission “enriching lives… enhancing organisations… engaging communities”. Conducting these projects with Calderdale Council enriches our teaching and application of knowledge, evidence of effectiveness and impact of students and academics on the surrounding environment. We are looking forward to expand our collaboration in the coming years.”

Partnership project with the Universities of Huddersfield and Leeds

2018

Calderdale Council has trialled a new partnership project with the Universities of Huddersfield and Leeds. It offered a variety of topical research project ideas for final year masters or PhD students, mainly using open data on Calderdale Dataworks.

Reablement

Reablement in Calderdale is an intense (up to 6 weeks) programme of support, usually delivered at home, which is offered to people with disabilities and those who are frail or recovering from an illness or injury. Where successful, reablement helps people to stay in their own homes and decreases dependence on external support. The students were given access to the SALT (Short and Long Term) statutory returns for Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale for the last 3 years and also interviewed staff and managers from Calderdale’s reablement service, as well as a sample of those receiving the service. The students’ findings highlighted a difference in support provided to carers between boroughs and the number of requests for support received. Recommendations included a review of early intervention and prevention, recruitment and assessment processes.

Home adaptations

The Handy Person Service and Accessible Homes Agency work alongside each other providing Minor and Major Adaptations for the public in Calderdale. The Handy Person Service carry out most minor adaptations, for example key safes, shower seats, grab rails, with the Accessible Homes Agency arranging major adaptations which include stair lifts, level access showers, bathroom alterations. The number of adaptations has doubled within a 3 year period and is an increasingly growing area due to the independence agenda. The students used service data on major and minor adaptations for 3 years, which was anonymised to Ward level, with the aim of ‘profiling past demand and scope future demand for Home Adaption Services’. Findings from the students included that recent increases in total adaptations were not caused by population change, with major adaptations being the most in-demand, and a growth in levels of enquiries.

Impact of Children’s Centres

There are 21 Children’s Centre areas in Calderdale providing early years’ education and childcare, health services and family support to just over 5,000 children up to five years old. In light of the on-going budget challenges the Council has had to look at how the service is delivered across the borough and is currently recommissioning Children’s Centre services so the project has been timely.

The project aim was to try and measure the impact of children’s centres interventions on children’s key stage academic achievements. This was done by looking at data from a small cohort of children accessing children’s centre services in 2011 – 2013 with their subsequent Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Phonics and Key Stage 1 results and other relevant national literature and research.

Despite the small sample, there were some really good findings around centre location, age of attendance and how the frequency of activities attended has an impact on results. For example, the more frequently children attended art and creative activities the better they scored at EYFS, likewise the higher frequency in attending physical sessions saw a positive influence on Phonics results. The project touched on demographics and disadvantaged areas but would need a larger sample and a more developed dataset to take this further.

Children Looked After (CLA)

The cost of placements for Children Looked After is increasing. There is a lack of in house foster carers which leads to more expensive, external placements being sought. The students were asked to explore supply and demand of sustainable and affordable placements e.g. Care homes, foster placements and other mainstream provision. They analysed the data and suggested strategies that could offer improvements both locally and nationally. The quality and price of provision were identified as the most important variables to consider. The students were signposted to published data from the SSDA903 Children Looked After Statutory Return which provides numbers and trends of CLA, alongside placement information in addition to numbers of Children in Need, Child Protection cases and the Local Authority Interactive Tool (LAIT) to help build a picture of demand. We shared a recently published document Making Sense – Understanding the drivers of variation in spend on Children’s Services and the students also liaised directly with the Service Lead. They carried out analysis and benchmarked us against other local authorities in our region. The recommendations focused on improving the child’s living conditions (based on a scheme in Bulgaria) and support for the family with parent training programmes. They also considered workforce issues and suggested strengthening volunteer input.

Sports Services

Calderdale Sports Services works across the borough from pools to gyms and multi activity sites existing within a highly competitive marketplace. The service is required to work in commercial environment and increasing demands to meet financial targets to sustain this service.

Calderdale Council also have a vision for Calderdale to be the most Active Borough in the North of England by 2020. In Calderdale, 32% of residents are rarely active. According to the World Health Organisation, physical inactivity has negative implications for people’s physical and emotional health and is a contributory factor to shorter life spans.

The project looked at 2 potential extension projects, to check if they are economically viable and determine the appropriate pay-back period for the capital borrowing. Students analysed demand, catchments areas, local competitors, existing and potential customers and current and peak usage of supports services in order to determine findings and recommendations.

Recommendations established there are benefits of monetary value of return on both investments, suggested a target market and supported a pay-back period within the next 6 years.

Empty Properties

Empty Properties have been an ongoing issue in Calderdale and other Authorities for many years, with links to many wider projects such as Council Tax revenue, new homes bonus and other funding from central government to bring property back in to use. Empty properties also have local impact on the neighbourhood, and can have a negative impact.

The student has received a cut of current empty stock, and met with Council Tax and Housing Services. Currently the student is still writing the dissertation.

Claire Broadbent Performance & Business Intelligence Team Leader

“Calderdale Council is becoming more intelligence led, and recognises the power of data in helping to make evidence based decisions. To meet customer needs and expectations, we use data and information to target and improve our services. We thought it would be a great opportunity to link with nearby Universities, to put some of our wicked social issues to the students and see what insight they could gain from the data available. It has been a great collaboration, and one we intend to repeat in future, using lessons learned from this trial.”

Dr Radi Haloub, Senior Lecturer and Course Leader Huddersfield University

“The University of Huddersfield has generated significant and far-reaching impacts as a consequence of validating MSc Courses to include consultancy projects. The delivery of these projects is in partnership with local and national institutions, and they are monitored by academics at our Business School. This year, Calderdale Council gave us an opportunity to conduct projects and implement academic research in some of their topical issues. These projects increased students’ knowledge, and provided them with professional experiences and transferable skills.”