Step 8: Reviewing and revising the assessment
This section will help you through the process of reviewing and revising the local economic assessment (LEA) at a timescale appropriate to your circumstances.
- Top tips
- Why review?
- What should the annual review cover?
- What should the three-year revision cover?
- Is it still fit for purpose?
- Measuring the impact: using strategic added value (SAV) to review the LEA
- Who should be involved in reviewing and revising the assessment?
- Identify timelines and processes for revising and updating with colleagues in the council and at the regional development agency (RDA).
- Devise a process and set of measures that enable you to capture the impact that the LEA has had.
- Provide clear guidance on how comments and insights gathered during the reviews will be considered and fed back to stakeholders.
- Devise a plan for communicating any changes flowing from the annual and three-yearly reviews to stakeholders.
- Reviewing the assessment will enable comparative analysis and a benchmark position from which to revise future LEAs.
- Find a champion, preferably an appropriate portfolio-holder in the council, to act as a figurehead for the review.
- Demonstrate the flexibility of the LEA by highlighting any examples of where new evidence has led to changed priorities or activities.
- Strategic added value (SAV) is a useful framework to review the assessment process and its impact.
The LEA needs to be reviewed on an annual basis and revised every three years.
From a local perspective, the timing and frequency of LEAs should be linked to the cycle for preparing sustainable community strategies (SCSs) and local area agreement (LAA) revisions and refreshes. Both of these should be informed by an up-to-date economic evidence base.
From a regional perspective, the timing of LEAs should also be linked to the timetable for preparing and reviewing regional strategies and regional implementation plans.
This is an opportunity to identify whether your LEA is still assessing the right issues or whether it needs updating in the light of changes and progress made.
LEAs should provide an up-to-date valuable evidence base that improves understanding and drives resource allocation and decision making. The older an assessment gets, the less likely it is to be referred to.
By reviewing the evidence and analysis on annual and three-yearly cycles, you can demonstrate change and progress and maintain confidence and buy-in from stakeholders.
You can also ensure that your LEA is responsive to changing external circumstances, such as rising unemployment or inward investment.
What should the annual review cover?
To support and underpin the review process, monitoring procedures need to be established to track the extent to which the purpose and objectives of the LEA are being achieved. The lead local authority should monitor the development and implementation of the LEA and seek progress from stakeholders on a regular basis.
You might not be able to change the LEA a great deal on an annual basis, but you can at least respond to new knowledge and or data becoming available and stakeholder feedback.
On an annual basis there are likely to be various tasks involved in reviewing your LEA. They include:
- monitoring how the LEA is being used, checking that your stakeholders understand it
- evaluating the outcomes resulting from the assessment
- updating the SWOT* analysis of the area
- updating the LEA to ensure it reflects changing legislation, national, regional and local priorities and targets, and new data sets.
Each annual review should highlight activity which pre-empts the following year's programme of activity. So, as you undertake the review at the end of year 1, you should also be thinking about what will need to happen in year 2.
The annual review should take no more than one month to complete.
*SWOT: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
What should the three-year revision cover?
This is the opportunity to undertake a more substantial review and revision of the assessment. In addition to undertaking the tasks included in the annual review essentially the three-year review would involve revisiting stages outlined in the introduction.
The first revisions are likely to take place in 2013. This will also be the time at which initial outputs from the 2011 Census will be released and will provide a particular opportunity for local authorities to significantly enhance their local economic evidence base.
The three-year revision should take no more than six months to complete.
Is it still fit for purpose?
When reviewing the LEA, distinction needs to be made and maintained between reviewing the impact of the LEA and reviewing other changes in the economy that have taken place. In looking at the impact, the annual and three-yearly reviews should consider the LEA's:
- robustness - credibility and legitimacy of the LEa process and outputs in terms of quality and rigour among stakeholders.
- use - breadth and depth of usage - ‘is it becoming the key evidence source on the local economy?'
- connections - extent to which the LEA is referenced in other local strategies and plans
- flexibility - extent to which the evidence and analysis in the LEA provides a mixture of snapshot and medium-term insights.
Measuring the impact: using strategic added value (SAV) to review the LEA
SAV is a measure for capturing the wider impacts of a given intervention. This involves analysing strategic leadership, partnership creation and decision making.
Impact of England's RDAs (PDF, 664KB, 163 pages) - on the Department for Business Innovation and Skills website
This approach would be useful to explore the following:
Strategic and or catalytic role - how has the assessment:
- contributed to the development of new understanding?
- led to additional interest from stakeholders?
- encouraged organisations to approach data differently in any way?
- enhanced the 'quality' of evidence bases in the area?
- influenced policy and resource decisions?
Coordination role - how has the assessment:
- improved the coordination, networking and working relationships between partners?
- created more confidence in and commitment to evidence-led decision making?
Intelligence and awareness raising role - how has the assessment:
- helped the dissemination of information and good practice in the area?
- shaped a more strategic way of thinking about data in the local authority and its partners?
- helped to increase the profile and raised awareness of data issues in the area?
Who should be involved in reviewing and revising the assessment?
Producing an LEA is a cross-cutting activity, so any review must include the views of internal and external stakeholders. This will determine how 'fit for purpose' the assessment still is, and whether and what should be updated.
It is highly likely that shifts in policies, structures and governance will result in the stakeholder community for the LEA expanding and changing over time.
Understanding the needs, perceptions and experience of stakeholders should lie at the heart of the LEA review process. Therefore devise a framework that will enable you to compare and contrast the views, experiences and added value of the LEA across a range of stakeholders at both local and regional levels.
The publication of each year's update on the economy and the implications for the LEA can further help build relationships with stakeholders and identify new or shared priorities that need addressing.
2 May 2012