11 Nov 2021

The Place to Be: How social sciences are helping to improve places in the UK - new major report from the Academy of Social Sciences’

On 11th November, the Academy of Social Sciences – of which BAM is a member learned society – launched a timely report demonstrating the significant practical contributions that UK university-based social sciences are already making to ‘levelling up’. This comes as government in Whitehall and its Levelling-Up Task Force consider which approaches and policies to pursue. 

The report brings together 24 case studies in which social science expertise is improving local economic growth, private sector businesses and productivity, local public services and quality of life in cities, regions, and countries across the UK. Most social science disciplines have a hand in this applied, and often multi-disciplinary, work. Many of these studies relate closely to the four ‘levelling-up’ objectives identified by Neil O’Brien MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Levelling Up, The Union and Constitution.

The report also demonstrates a new dimension to the important civic role played by UK universities, as key institutions in driving local economic growth and ‘levelling up’ improvements. Such work is often led by the social sciences staff in universities.

The report calls on policy-makers to recognise and further support the development of long-term university/public/private partnerships underpinned by high quality social science expertise. It cites the need for more co-ordinated and stable funding, greater knowledge sharing of what works, and continuing investment in data collection, access and skills. Together these will help unlock the potential for initiatives such as those featured to be scaled up to help meet ‘levelling up’ aspirations across the UK. 

You can find our six key messages in the report’s Executive Summary. The report is available on the Academy of Social Sciences website here.