Step 7: Dissemination and integration of the assessment
This section will help you to position the local economic assessment (LEA) with internal and external stakeholders and identify where it should sit and what it should inform.
It will also help to plan a process for dissemination and the mechanisms you need in place to inform the integrated regional strategy (IRS).
- Using the story of place to achieve integration
- Positioning the assessment
- Converting dissemination into ownership and integration
- How will you know you have been successful?
- Build ownership and integration of the LEA across internal and external stakeholders, particularly the council's planning department and the local strategic partnership (LSP).
- Agree with your regional development agency (RDA) how the LEA will inform and be informed by the regional evidence base.
- Prepare a dissemination strategy that identifies the stakeholders to be targeted, how this will be done and the expected outcomes.
- Engage with stakeholders, both internally and externally, to clearly understand who to target and with what message.
- Think about quality dissemination as opposed to just quantity.
- Have in mind a short two-sentence statement about the LEA which can be your introduction or, for example, when asked by a senior manager "how's it going?"
- Be clear about what constitutes success and link this to the assessment's original purpose and scope.
Using the story of place to achieve integration
Setting out your story of place and agreeing this as the foundation of your LEA with your stakeholders at the outset will help in building ownership and integration at a later stage.
Positioning the assessment
The duty for local authorities to undertake an LEA is not simply about a mechanical process of producing a document. It is about councils demonstrating that, by working in partnership and considering the economic context of their areas, they have developed an effective evidence base. This will inform the LSP, sustainable community strategy (SCS), resonate with and support the local development framework (LDF) and justify the deployment of discretionary wellbeing powers.
In addition, as the statutory guidance notes, the assessment will also need to:
"Inform their local area agreements (LAAs). Flowing from this, local economic assessments should also inform other local strategies such as local transport plans, housing strategies and, where applicable, work and skills plans as well as the relevant local authorities' commissioning role for 16 to 19 learning, following the transfer of responsibilities from the Learning and Skills Council in 2010."
LEAs also need to form part of the evidence base for the preparation of the IRS and the implementation plan that accompanies it. The exact way in which this arrangement will function will need to be negotiated between councils and their RDA. We suggest that councils use their regional leaders' forum and or leaders boards to negotiate this on behalf of the region, rather than expecting the RDA to have separate dialogues with each council.
The following diagram illustrates the evolution of the LEA - from evidence to strategy to action - and the lead agency responsible for driving each element. Identifying, gathering and analysing the evidence will be the primary responsibility of the local authority. Once the evidence base is being used to inform the SCS, the responsibility sits with the LSP. At the stage when the SCS results in economic development-related actions and activities, responsibility transfers to the appropriate LSP partner with overall responsibility still residing with the LSP.
An important element of building the ownership and positioning the LEA with stakeholders is an effective dissemination strategy. This should aim to increase awareness, understanding, ownership, and integration of the LEA among stakeholders.
Councils will need to adopt a multi-strand approach to dissemination to ensure their efforts are effective. Using just one vehicle or method is unlikely to be successful.
It will be important to explore which methods are the most effective and appropriate to target different stakeholders. The following list offers different types of dissemination media that councils might consider using:
- conferences and or summits
- mainstream media - television, radio, newspapers and so on.
Converting dissemination into ownership and integration
Producing a dissemination strategy will not necessarily result in effective ownership and integration unless the strategy is articulated as a clear set of actions. The following framework will enable councils to do this, in addition to providing a useful checklist for monitoring progress.
How will you know you have been successful?
Councils will only be able to review and measure the progress of the LEA if they have established clear targets at the outset.
An effective way of establishing targets is to clearly link them to the purpose of the LEA, as this will help to focus and drive the dissemination process' purpose and scope. In relation to the assessment, dissemination should increase levels of:
Local authorities need to set realistic and achievable targets. As they are thinking about targets, it is important that councils consider the following questions:
- What might success look like?
- What methods will you use to measure success?
- What outcomes, for example, a change in practice, would you like to see as a result of your dissemination activities?
The framework provides a structure for organising and capturing this process.
|Purpose||Stakeholder||Criteria for success||Timescale||Rationale|
|Awareness||Councillors||Better understanding of how the local economy works and its links with surrounding areas||3 months||Ultimately responsible for policy and investment decisions. Better understanding should lead to better decisions in relation to economic development (ED)|
|Integration||Council transport department||ED considerations are factored into all transport investment decisions||12 months||Transport is a vital component of ED and in many places the lack of connections hampers economic growth and worsens worklessness|
2 May 2012