Team of engineers reviewing plans

RAND Solution

Impact Dashboard Helps Local Regulatory Services Deliver Value

Challenge

In much of Europe, local authorities receive taxpayer funds to enforce national and European regulations and ensure that food and workplaces are safe, companies trade fairly, and the environment is clean. Do these local regulators actually deliver value for money?

Context

Puzzle with regulation and compliance

The policy environment surrounding local authorities and their regulatory services in England and Wales changed significantly in the early 2000s. For Local Authority Regulatory Services (LARS), which are branches of local government that enforce national and often European regulations at the local level, these changes create a number of challenges.

  • LARS have a low profile in local government priority setting. Despite increasing responsibilities, they had a difficult time making a case for their services in a period of budgetary tightening.
  • LARS were unable to measure their impact on stakeholders and demonstrate that their activities create benefits for local businesses and communities.
  • LARS needed better knowledge about the outcomes to which they were contributing and how they could help in achieving local performance targets.

Local regulatory services have been unable to prove their value to their local authorities, their communities and local businesses and this has been reflected in difficulties around budget and priority setting.

Project Description

To help the LARS achieve these goals, the UK Local Better Regulation Office asked RAND Europe to better understand the impacts and outcomes of these regulatory services and to create a widely applicable evaluation tool that LARS could use to assess the impact of their myriad services.

Using a logic modelling framework, the research team

  • mapped complex causal pathways of regulators’ inputs, activities and outputs;
  • defined the key impacts and performance indicators that would demonstrate value to local businesses and communities; and
  • developed an impact dashboard of key indicators and a toolkit to train regulators to use the dashboard.

Research Questions

  1. What is currently known about the impacts and outcomes of LARS?
  2. What data are needed to measure the impact of LARS in England and Wales?
  3. Can a toolkit be developed that a variety of local regulators can use to assess the impact they have on local communities?

Key Findings & Recommendations

  • LARS’ share of total local government spending is small, despite performing a wide range of essential enforcement activities at the local level
  • LARS are embedded in complex governance arrangements
  • Only half of all regulatory services collect outcome and impact information
  • The impacts and outcomes of LARS are not often a subject of study
  • A wide range of potential high-level impacts of LARS may be identified
  • Dashboards can provide an overview of LARS’ progress in achieving impact, and a toolkit can help LARS think about outcomes and impacts in a structured and systematic way
An industrial inspector auditing a factory

Impact

RAND Europe offered train-the-trainer workshops to equip national and local regulators to use the impact dashboard and toolkit and coach others. Over half of local authorities in England and Wales are now using the tool to demonstrate their value for money.

"For the first time local authorities have the tools they need for priority planning, profile raising and budgeting."

— Clive Grace, Chair, and Graham Russell, Chief Executive, UK Local Better Regulation Office