Reflections and lessons learned from the Hull Truth Poverty Commission

On Monday 8 July 2024 a unique gathering of policymakers and those with lived experience of poverty came together to reflect on a shared journey of change and celebrate progress made.

Across the UK, Poverty Truth Commissions (PTC) bring together two groups: people with lived experience struggling against poverty, who are known in the process as Community Commissioners; and people who are decision-makers or policymakers from civic or business life who are known in the process as Civic Commissioners.

In Hull, these groups came together over a period of 2 years to listen to each other’s experiences and build relationships. They met as humans, not job titles, and they shared their stories and agreed priorities for a local area with the aim of improving the lives of people in poverty.

Perhaps uniquely, the Hull PTC has been joined by two academic researchers, Dr Gill Hughes, Senior Lecturer at the University of Hull and Y-PERN Policy Fellow Dr Juan Pablo Winter, who have attempted to capture some of the learnings from the journey to take forward. They have drawn on methods including Participatory Action Research (PAR) and Transformative Participatory Evaluation (TPE). This aligns with the ethos of the Poverty Truth Commission and responds to a long-term relationship between the commissioners, facilitators and evaluators, based on trust, commitment, and mutual respect, valuing everyone’s unique perspectives and contributions. 

The evaluation team commissioned My Pockets, a film production company and arts organisation based in East Yorkshire, to tell the story of the first Hull Poverty Truth Commission.

Community commissioners have experience of poverty, and civic commissioners are leaders in organisations within Hull and East Yorkshire, who have access to systems and services that can sometimes impact experiences of poverty. Together their voices narrate this film. Relationships and trust grew supported by facilitation from The Forum, Timebank and Groundwork, who were part of the consortium of the voluntary and community sector, which convened the commission. 

The film was premiered at the Hull PTC ‘awakening’ event on the 8 July, and the team are proud to share that more widely now:

Introducing Y-PERN Policy Fellow Dr Peter Mukarumbwa

Dr. Peter Mukarumbwa is Y-PERN Policy Fellow for West Yorkshire, helping to enhance the contribution of academic research to support evidence-based policymaking across the region.

Peter is responsible for…

Research, policy and engagement support in respect of the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise (SME) economy. His work will include exploring the potential impact of the Bradford 2025 City of Culture on the SMEs in Bradford and Yorkshire and Humber more widely and work on the SME manufacturing economy in the region. Thus, enhancing the contribution of academic research to support evidence-based policymaking across the region with specific focus on the needs and requirements of SMEs.

Peter is most looking forward to…

Working closely with local businesses, academics and other stakeholders in the Yorkshire and Humber region on knowledge exchange which will contribute towards developing policy, analysis reports and briefings based on research and evidence.  Exchange of ideas with Y-PERN Fellows across the network and see the impact of his work in the region.

Key areas of focus for Peter are…

On exploring the policy requirements and implications for and from SMEs in the region and particularly in Bradford. This will include a focus on SMEs not currently engaging with SME support and development activities across the region. It will require innovative approaches to SME engagement and working with a diverse range of governmental, non-governmental, and community partners to include Bradford Metropolitan District Council, Bradford City of Culture, West Yorkshire Combined Authority, the Federation of Small Business and the Chamber of Commerce.

Ultimately, his work will link into the West Yorkshire systems review and economic strategy. Specific areas of focus within this will include but not limited to exploring challenges and opportunities for SME manufacturers in West Yorkshire; unearthing reasons for SME non-engagement in existing business support; understanding barriers to growth in Yorkshire and Humber family businesses; and developing of an SME and family business index for Yorkshire and Humber region.

Peter joins us with a background in …

Agricultural Economics, in a career which spans over 15 years working with teams from multicultural backgrounds in diverse fields across five Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries, namely: Lesotho, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. He acquired substantial knowledge in academic policy engagement, rural economy, youth and gender mainstreaming, quantitative and qualitative research methods. His last role before joining Y-PERN was leading the design of the USA Millenium Challenge Cooperation (MCC)-funded project Market Driven Irrigated Horticulture (MDIH), working closely with the Business Environment and Technical Assistance (BETA) Project in Lesotho.

Enhancing the Student Civic Experience: A Roadmap to Empower Students

Universities across the UK should embed a ‘truly civic’ approach that equips all students as lifelong active citizens through formal learning, campus activities, and community engagement, according to a new report jointly produced by the Civic University Network and the UPP Foundation.

The report, Enhancing the Student Civic Experience, argues that universities have a fundamental responsibility to promote robust civic and democratic education regardless of a student’s field of study.

Report author Dr Andy Mycock, Chief Policy Fellow, Y-PERN Chief Policy Fellow comments: “As we prepare for a new UK government, the launch of the Enhancing the Student Civic Experience report offers a much-needed new lens to understand the social value of higher education, providing an opportunity to reflect on the value and contributions of students in developing innovative and impactful forms of civic engagement and knowledge exchange.”

Key recommendations for civic engagement

Based on input from two national workshops involving representatives from across higher education and leading civil society and student organisations, the report outlines four key recommendations:

  • Supporting Democratic Participation through practices like compulsory voter registration, on-campus polling, and legislative ‘surgeries’.
  • Acknowledging the student civic experience in metrics like the Teaching Excellence Framework and National Student Survey.
  • Refreshing Civic University Agreements to formally recognise the importance and value of the student civic experience to ‘truly civic’ universities.
  • Creating a ‘What Works’ civic learning resource hub and funding further research.

The report also recommends universities and Students’ Unions should undertake an annual ‘Student Civic Health Check’ to assess levels of civic engagement and participation in systems of representation, student elections, and local democratic and volunteering networks.

Innovative approaches from Yorkshire and Humber

Many of the case studies which informed the report came from university partners in the Yorkshire and Humber Policy Engagement and Research Network who provided examples of innovative approaches to student civic engagement.

“They highlight the potential for all students to learn about and participate in evidence-based policymaking during their time at university, both as part of their formal studies and through extracurricular activities,” says Dr Mycock.

Partners across Y-PERN are exploring how policy engagement can form part of the broader student civic experience. For example, colleagues at the University of Hull are developing a module on Policy Impact which focuses on local and regional policy and community engagement for post-graduate students. Y-PERN has also hosted an early-career workshop on regional policy engagement in West Yorkshire, involving postgraduate students from across the region. 

Improving town-gown relations

Richard Brabner, Executive Chair of the UPP Foundation said: “Student participation in their local communities through volunteering, extra-curricular activities and work experience as part of their degree is incredibly valuable. It helps town-gown relations and supports student employability. This report offers a plan for what an effective student civic service programme could look like and we call on the next government and higher education sector to embrace its findings.”

Professor Chris Wiggington is Pro Vice-Chancellor for Global and Academic Partnerships at Sheffield Hallam University which leads the Civic University Network. He said: “Our degrees and apprenticeships must enable students to develop true civic identities. This means providing sustained opportunities for civic learning, participation in governance, and connections to local communities.  Higher education holds incredible potential to support students to become engaged and active citizens. There is a need to promote universities as civic and democratic communities of participation to prepare them for a lifelong commitment as active citizens.”

Sophie Duncan and Paul Manners, Co-Directors, NCCPE said: “We warmly welcome this report. The National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement always been interested in how to maximise the potential of student involvement in universities’ public, community and civic engagement. The report lays out a clear set of recommendations and challenges – and we are committed to working with the sector to tackle these, in particular to help build a stronger community of people committed to this agenda and to developing the evidence base about what works, including how civic engagement can animate student learning.”

Introducing Y-PERN Policy Fellow Pratichi Chatterjee

Dr Pratichi Chatterjee is Y-PERN Policy Fellow for West Yorkshire (based at the University of Huddersfield) and facilitates engagement between academics, policymakers and the community around housing in the region.

Pratichi is responsible for…

Delivering research and promoting community engagement on issues of homelessness and housing quality in West Yorkshire. In her role Pratichi will also support the development of more effective ways for academics and policymakers to work together.

Pratichi is most looking forward to…

Learning about the barriers to just housing outcomes in the region, and collaborating with local housing and health partnerships, academics and communities to work within these constraints, but hopefully also to challenge them.

Key areas of focus for Pratichi are…

homelessness among non-UK nationals, especially people seeking asylum. Specifically, in her role she will collaborate with the West Yorkshire Housing and Health Network to identify and evaluate realistic ways to support people at risk of homelessness.

Pratichi will also work on problems with social housing quality, especially those of damp and mould which social housing providers now have a duty to address, as per the Social Housing (Regulation) Act.  Her research will contribute to social landlords finding ways to better support tenants on such issues.

Pratichi joins us with a background in…

Human/Urban geography. Her past work has been on topics of housing development, displacement and homelessness. Prior to joining YPERN Pratichi worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Leeds investigating the prefab house-building market in England, including the types of homes and places it is delivering.

In a previous role outside of academia, Pratichi has carried out research with the charity Crisis looking at the relationship between societal racism and homelessness.

Pratichi completed her PhD from the University of Sydney, Australia. Here her work focussed on the drivers and impacts of public housing redevelopment and infrastructure building, and the continuing influence of colonisation on such city-building processes.

Kersten England CBE joins Y-PERN

With her wealth of experience in local government leadership, Kersten will help to convene academic-policy engagement networks and co-steer Y-PERN’s strategic direction more broadly.

The Yorkshire and Humber Policy Engagement and Research Network (Y-PERN) is changing how researchers and policymakers work together to develop inclusive, place-based policies across the region. It gathers all 12 universities and 18 local and combined authorities in Yorkshire and the Humber, supported by £6 million in Research England Development (RED) funding and institutional funding. Its flagship project YPIP (Yorkshire and Humber Policy Innovation Partnership) formally launched in February 2024 and is supported by £5 million from UKRI and ESRC.

Kersten England CBE will now join the Y-PERN Directorate and will be based with Yorkshire Universities (YU), which is a key partner organisation for Y-PERN and Y-PIP. Kersten already holds the position of co-director of YPIP.

Kersten speaks at the annual UPEN
conference in York

Professor Andy Brown, Y-PERN Academic Director, comments: “Kersten joins Y-PERN at a particularly exciting juncture of the project as we accelerate activity around our growing number of academic-policy engagement networks. With her unique background and direct links to senior officers and leaders in Yorkshire and Humber, I’ve no doubt that Kersten will make an immensely valuable contribution to both YPIP and Y-PERN.”

Dr Peter O’Brien, Y-PERN Policy Director and YU Executive Director, said: “I am delighted that Kersten is joining the Y-PERN Directorate, given her pivotal role in developing the policy engagement infrastructure on which Y-PERN and Y-PIP are founded, as well as the insights and connections she brings to academic policy engagement.”

Professor Gary Dymski, Y-PERN Strategy Director, commented: “Our shared co-directorship of YPIP will permit a unified YPIP-Y-PERN approach to building more inclusive and sustainable communities across Yorkshire. Kersten’s eminence in regional policy and initiatives focused on addressing inequality ensures that our developing experiment in university-public-sector-community collaboration will be a template for the future of policy development in the nation as a whole.”

Kersten England CBE adds: “Y-PERN and YPIP represent a once-in-a-generation opportunity to drive a step-change in the way we collaborate and co-create innovative policy solutions that will have a real impact on the people of Yorkshire and Humber – and potentially even serve as a model for other parts of the country. I look forward to working with the wider team and seeing what we can achieve together.”

A wealth of experience

Kersten currently serves as Chair of Bradford 2025 (UK City of Culture) and Chair of the Young Foundation – having recently stepped down as Chief Executive of Bradford Council and Chair of Yorkshire & Humber Councils. She has over 30 years of experience in local government leadership across Kirklees, Calderdale and York.

As part of her role on Y-PERN’s Directorate, she will facilitate linkages between Y-PERN and Y-PIP initiatives and officers and elected representatives of local and combined authorities in the Yorkshire and Humber region. She will also help in convening the growing number of academic-policy engagement networks, including the region’s four National Institute for Health and Care Research Health Determinants Research Collaborations (HDRCs), which use research findings to understand how decisions impact on health and health inequalities.

Reflecting on the local elections: a Y-PERN perspective

Y-PERN’s Chief Policy Fellow, Dr Andy Mycock reflects on the mayoral and local election results in Yorkshire and the Humber and what it could mean for Y-PERN and YPIP’s ongoing mission.

The local and combined authority elections held across the Yorkshire and Humber region in May 2024 provide some important insights into how the political and electoral ‘tectonic plates’ shifted. The overall voting patterns across Yorkshire and Humber were largely similar to those across the rest of England. Labour’s share of the overall vote (about 35%) was similar to last year. The local elections gave us some indication of the likely outcomes in a general election, but the Blackpool South by-election was likely a more insightful indication of where the country stands in terms of national party politics. Below are some headline thoughts on our region: 

Mayoral Elections

The mayoral election in York and North Yorkshire (YNY) provided the headline result in the region, with David Skaith (Labour) beating Keane Duncan (Conservative) by almost 15,000 votes. Skaith’s campaign centred on local economic growth while not making any significant spending commitments. 

One significant point of note was the turnout of 191,279 (just under 30%) – higher than many expected and a positive sign of initial recognition and buy-in from voters for the new combined authority (and in line with most previous initial mayoral elections in England).

Skaith will seek to hit the ground running and will welcome the proactive approaches to pre-election engagement by our Y-PERN universities in supporting the YNY Mayoral Combined Authority (MCA) transition team. Y-PERN will actively seek to develop existing relationships with YNY MCA officers and also the new mayor’s advisory team. 

The other two mayoral contests went as many expected – with Tracy Brabin and Oliver Coppard both winning comfortably. Comparisons with previous elections in terms of party support are somewhat difficult due the change in voting system to ‘first past the post’. Brabin received just over 50% of the vote share, as did Coppard (50.9%). Both mayors and officers in the Combined Authorities in South and West Yorkshire will likely be concerned about the somewhat poor turnouts in relatively mature Combined Authorities. While South Yorkshire turnout increased marginally from 2022 (26.4%) to 27%, West Yorkshire’s turnout dropped from 36.5% to 32%, a surprise considering local elections were held across the region on the same day.

Key Takeaways

The victorious Labour mayoral candidates all showed restraint in the policy remit of their manifestoes, largely resisting the temptation to speak to policy areas beyond their current delegated powers. Moreover, the focus of all the mayoral candidate manifestoes spoke strongly to the shared work of predominant Y-PERN and YPIP areas of interest (climate/sustainability, local economic growth and skills, transport, arts and culture). Furthermore, the shared focus of Y-PERN and YPIP on enhancing the reach and resonance of community engagement could help support future voter engagement with the Combined Authorities and turnout in elections.

Local Elections

As expected, Labour also had healthy returns in many of the local council elections across the region. It is interesting to note that support was not however as sizeable in terms of vote share (35%) as the 1996 local elections (43%) which preceded the 1997 general election. This in parts reflects that Labour has been in power in many local authorities across the Yorkshire and Humber region for some time and some of the issues concerning finances and governmental competency are viewed by the electorate to reside at local as well as national level.

Overall, Labour-led councils strengthened their hold on power, but with some notable exceptions. All five local authorities in West Yorkshire remained Labour-led, but the party lost overall control in Kirklees; they remain the largest party there but new Kirklees Labour party group leader, Carole Pattison, will need to work with other political parties to address significant fiscal challenges facing the council. They also lost some councillors in Bradford. However, this should not impact too strongly on any forthcoming general election as voting switches have taken place in wards where Labour has very strong existing support. 

In South Yorkshire, Sheffield City Council remains in no overall control (NOC), with Labour still leading the council as the largest party. Barnsley and Rotherham also saw Labour make modest gains. Notable across West and South Yorkshire was some growth in the Green and Lib Dem vote and councillors, and the relative success of Reform UK where they took votes from all the main parties (though they didn’t stand candidates in many seats). 

In Hull, the Lib Dems fought off a strong Labour challenge to maintain control of the Council (Labour made a gain of one councillor). There were no elections in East Riding, but the other notable result was Labour taking the Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner post from the Conservatives (this has not been connected to the forthcoming mayoral role in Hull and East Riding MCA). The turnout was very low at 17%. There were no local elections in York and North Yorkshire.

Key Takeaways

The overarching messages is that the political landscape is both increasingly monochrome in one sense, as Labour is now in control of most local authorities across the region and the three mayoral roles. This will see some closer synchronisation of local and sub-regional policymaking in each of the three areas with a mayor. This noted, the political landscape remains complex and often influenced by a range of local, regional and national issues.

The Next Steps

Y-PERN and YPIP will continue to seek to support local and combined authorities across the region by listening and learning from our local and combined authority officer and elected representative colleagues. Our collective mission is to enhance cross-local and combined authority capacity and collaboration across the Yorkshire and Humber region. The emergence of the Policy Campus in Sheffield – which is part of a growing civil service footprint beyond Whitehall – is another significant opportunity for Y-PERN and YPIP to build multi-level policymaking capacity across the region.

Multi-level and cross-regional collaboration facilitated and supported by Y-PERN and YPIP will though need to adapt to the widening remit of our region’s Combined Authorities – particularly in the areas of local economic strategy and growth – as regional devolution deepens at a time of limited resources for some of local authorities. The forthcoming UK general election will also provide new challenges and opportunities for local and combined authorities, further highlighting the importance of collaboration with the region’s universities through Y-PERN and YPIP. 

Climate Talking Points on the agenda for Yorkshire and the Humber

In an election year in which climate policies are a key issue, the Yorkshire & Humber Climate Commission (a Y-PERN partner) is helping voters to cut through the noise.

Climate Talking Points calls for four key changes to national policy crucial for making real progress on climate and nature in Yorkshire and the Humber.

The world has just experienced its warmest February in modern times, and record temperature highs have been observed each month since June 2023. The first year-long breach of 1.5C warming was confirmed last month, and global sea surface temperatures hit their highest ever levels last year.

“We know there is not only consensus on what we need to do, but also plenty of evidence to support the policy changes. “

Rosa Foster, Director of YHCC

Evidence shows that people want action on climate. Without a change in national policy, Yorkshire and the UK are in danger of failing to meet climate targets and missing out on significant economic and social benefits.

“It’s imperative that we act fast, that we act now, and that everyone plays their part,” said Rosa Foster, Director of the Yorkshire & Humber Climate Commission (YHCC), which is an independent and politically neutral advisory body run by a secretariat at the University of Leeds.

“We work closely with organisations across all sectors, as well as with local authorities and local politicians in the Yorkshire and Humber region. We know there is not only consensus on what we need to do, but also plenty of evidence to support the policy changes. What’s needed now is for people on the doorstep to press for these and make sure the messages hit home.”

Crucially, YHCC is a key partner in the Yorkshire and Humber Policy Engagement and Research Network (Y-PERN). Y-PERN is bringing in expertise across a range of specialisms – climate, health, education, biodiversity etc – as well as communities and those with lived experiences, to inform local policy.

Regional action

The Climate Talking Points briefing, which will be presented at an online event on 13 March, states that rapid decarbonisation, prioritising nature, and building resilience are key issues – and that investment in these areas will create new jobs and business opportunities, lower energy bills, and bring down costs associated with poor health and climate impacts.

The Commission also says it is crucial to ensure that climate action reduces inequalities and helps people to pursue healthy, fulfilling lives.

Encouraging action is already taking place across Yorkshire and the Humber, with local and combined authorities investing in climate friendly measures such as the Leeds PIPES district heating network, and grants for reducing emissions aimed at small businesses in South Yorkshire. The South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority has also run its own climate-themed citizens’ assembly.

In Hull, the Living with Water project is tackling adaptation to climate impacts, while the major industries around the Humber have big plans to get to net zero emissions, which are particularly important for the region’s role in global climate action.

And in York, the City of York Council, with partners on the Retrofit One Stop Shop York (ROSSY) project, has been awarded £3.37 million from Innovate UK to support, promote and encourage retrofitting work to homes across the city, helping residents to save money and to move the city towards net zero, while upskilling the sector with the latest techniques.

Cllr Claire Douglas, Leader of City of York Council and a YHCC vice-chair, said:

“Climate Talking Points provide the opportunity for wide-ranging debates about the existential challenge facing humankind as we look to the future. Not only do they provide regional government, campaigning and other organisations with a framework for what needs to happen, they provide guidance to national policy makers and Government in how to deliver the change required if we’re to halt the increasingly dangerous warming of our planet.

“I hope the public and decision makers will embrace Climate Talking Points and the direction they point us towards in delivering the economic, environmental and social benefits for Yorkshire and Humber of living in a cleaner world”.

Cllr Jack Hemingway, Deputy Leader of Wakefield Council and also a YHCC vice-chair, said:

“We are really proud to have three West Yorkshire authorities ranked A by CDP [Carbon Disclosure Project] for global leadership – but we know we need to go further and faster. The Climate Talking Points enable us to have that conversation.”

Cllr Paul West, Councillor for Wolds Weighton Ward and another YHCC vice-chair, said:

“As we enter spring in a few weeks’ time, we can all reflect on the turbulence that climate change has caused over the winter period. Displacing people, damaging ecosystems, creating uncertainty for millions of people. It is vitally important that we all play our part in reducing our impact on the planet. Through the work of the Yorkshire & Humber Climate Commission we can all add our voices to help shape our planet and region for generations to come.”

What policy changes are needed to unlock climate action across Yorkshire and the Humber?

In its Climate Talking Points briefing, the Commission has identified four key policy changes:

  1. Set out a clear pathway for reducing emissions and restoring nature and empower places to use local targets and go further and faster than national government if they wish.
  2. Create locally managed funding pots to allow key sectors to get on with acting, rather than wasting time competing and bidding for multiple, disjointed funding sources.
  3. Join up climate, skills and economy strategies to ensure they address the big challenges (poverty, ageing population, skills shortages and climate risks) together.
  4. Commit to a nature-first approach to infrastructure projects so that they can cope with future climate scenarios and nature is woven into all climate action.

Download the full Climate Talking Points here.

Making a difference on inclusive growth and sustainability: YPIP launches

Members of the YPIP team

Reflecting on the recent launch of the Yorkshire and Humber Policy Innovation Partnership (YPIP)funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of the wider Local Policy Innovation Partnerships (LPIPs) programme to address regional inequalities around the UK.

Over the past decade, investment in university policy engagement has enhanced the capacity of researchers and institutions to deliver real benefits and growth for citizens and communities across the country. This has been achieved through the gathering of knowledge and insight to support policymaking as well as the cross-pollination of ideas and sharing of expertise between a range of public, private and community stakeholders at local, regional and national levels.

This significant investment in the Yorkshire and Humber Policy Innovation Partnership (YPIP) will further harness the power of research and innovation across our region. YPIP has adopted ‘communities in their places’ as its cross-cutting theme. This will involve building structures and processes that empower low-income, marginalised and geographically isolated communities across the region. Given this overarching focus, YPIP will undertake initiatives in three substantive areas.

“We want to make a difference on the inclusive growth and sustainability living challenges facing people across the region.”

Professor Gary Dymski, YPIP Principal Investigator

A stepwise approach to change

First, in laying the foundations for change, YPIP is currently working with local authorities, the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission (YHCC) and Yorkshire & Humber Policy Engagement & Research Network (Y-PERN) to create an integrated Data Informatics Hub for the region. YPIP will then develop the Yorkshire Engagement Portal as an ‘active’ platform for stakeholder engagement, especially from community members.

Second, with a focus on supporting inclusive growth, YPIP will adopt ‘What works’ inclusive business practices. This will be achieved through the creation of business partnerships and networks that can spread inclusive practices across the region. Support will also be provided for younger residents who are intent on building careers via the creative economy and entrepreneurship, using Bradford2025 ‘UK City of Culture’ as an entry point to develop region-wide inclusive networks. 

Members of the YPIP team at the LPIP launch in central London in February

Third, to support sustainable living, YPIP and YHCC will work together to identify cost-effective retrofit interventions for a range of places and building types, generating standards that can unlock net zero carbon and climate readiness measures. Place-based demonstrators of Net Zero initiatives will also be undertaken.

Collaborate to innovate

Overall, YPIP represents a concerted effort by a unique team of collaborating institutions, organizations, and individuals across Yorkshire and the Humber. Professor Gary Dymski of Leeds University Business School at the University of Leeds is the principal investigator and is working closely with YPIP co-director Kersten England, chair of Bradford2025, board chair of the Young Foundation and appointee of (as well as former executive director of) the Yorkshire and Humber Leaders Board.

Importantly, YPIP will bring together a team of 24 co-investigators (16 drawn from the 12 universities of Yorkshire and Humber region, four representing different local authorities, three representing community-based organizations and one representing the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission). They will use co-production, co-design, and co-delivery methods to mobilise the collaborative potential of our communities and businesses, thus enhancing our region’s voice, productivity and long-term capacity.

To oversee and advise on its activities, YPIP will also have a board of directors comprised of business, university, third-sector and community leaders. As well as Y-PERN and YHCC, other regional partner organisations working with YPIP include Yorkshire Universities, Yorkshire and Humber Councils, the National Institute for Health Research Applied Research Collaboration Yorkshire and Humber and the Yorkshire Asian Business Association.

The national picture

YPIP’s activities got underway in January 2024 and will come to a close by December 2026. It will be funded by UKRI, with important contributions from the participating universities and other organizations. YPIP is one of four pilot Local Policy Innovation Partnerships (LPIPs) being initiated in the UK. In addition to YPIP, there are LPIP initiatives in each of the three devolved nations: Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. An LPIP Coordinating Hub, also funded by UKRI, is located at the University of Birmingham.

Commenting on the launch of YPIP, Principal Investigator, Professor Gary Dymski, commented: “All the members of our YPIP team are excited that we’ll have the opportunity to make a difference for the communities, councils and businesses of Yorkshire and the Humber.

“We are a vast region with a diverse population that resides in spaces ranging from remote rural hamlets to dense inner-city neighbourhoods. Our plan is ambitious: we want to make a difference on the inclusive growth and sustainability living challenges facing people across its length and breadth. YPIP gives our 12 Yorkshire universities some resources to use in this common effort.”

Key report sets out plan to tackle regional health inequalities

White Paper Cover

Devolving health powers and investment to local areas is key to tackling health and economic inequalities between Yorkshire and other parts of the UK, according to the findings of a new white paper.

The paper was delivered by Health Innovation Yorkshire & Humber, Yorkshire Universities and the NHS Confederation and lists 10 key recommendations to narrow the widening health and economic gap.

Chief among those recommendations is that central government should devolve more health powers to local places so that solutions can be found that meet the needs of local people and communities.

Notably, the report highlights the Yorkshire and Humber Policy Engagement and Research Network (Y-PERN) as an example of a Yorkshire-wide collaboration that is sharing evidence and best practice.

The report reads: “A cornerstone of Y-PERN … is bringing evidence-based rationale to influence policymaking for excluded and marginalised communities. The significance of this for health in the region is that it can act as an exemplar for how the extensive research facilities of Yorkshire Universities can be utilised by policymakers to improve health outcomes based on a proper understanding of the challenges faced, robust evidence and insights.”

A ’perfect test bed’ for innovation

The latest white paper, entitled Empowering Local Places for Health and Prosperity draws on data showing that health and economic inequalities across Yorkshire and Humber – which has the third lowest life expectancy in England – have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The white paper argues that meaningful devolution that allows local leaders to lead is the best way to tackle health inequalities and economic inactivity that currently cost the UK £180bn a year.

The paper highlights that Yorkshire’s diverse geography, economy and population and strong partnerships between public bodies, the health sector, universities, businesses, and others make it the “perfect test bed for piloting new approaches and innovations” that could be replicated and scaled up elsewhere in the country.

It also identifies the important role of universities and businesses in supporting health and economic prosperity as part of broad-based local partnerships.

As a region home to 37,000 students studying medicine or health-related subjects, Yorkshire’s universities are well-placed to meet ambitious targets set out in the NHS’s Long-Term Workforce Plan to double the number of medical school places in England and increasing adult nursing training places by 92%.

With NHS vacancies – particularly nursing jobs – at an all-time high, one of the white paper’s top recommendations is for health service leaders and the government to work more closely with universities to remove barriers to student recruitment in health-related subjects.

Professor Karen Bryan OBE, Chair of Yorkshire Universities, comments:

“Action to deliver on the NHS Workforce Plan ambitions has been slow to materialise, which is concerning given the scale of the workforce crisis the NHS is facing. I’m pleased that this white paper recognises the crucial role of universities in meeting the targets in the Workforce Plan, including boosting student recruitment, providing capital investment to improve training capacity, extending and diversifying placements and practice-learning, and tackling health student and early-career attrition.

“It also reinforces the importance of collaborative initiatives such our Yorkshire Policy Engagement and Research Network (Y-PERN), which unites our academics with policymakers and communities to ensure they are armed with evidence about what the economy and their communities really need to thrive.”

Read the full report here: 

Trailblazing Yorkshire Based Project Linking Academics With Policymakers And Communities Awarded £5m Funding

A trailblazing Yorkshire-based project, which includes a new data portal giving communities vital information, and major climate change initiative, has secured £5m funding.

The project, the only one to be funded in England, and one of just four in the UK to be awarded UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) investment, will be delivered between now and December, 2026 after a successful bid led by The University of Leeds on behalf of Yorkshire Universities – an innovative partnership of twelve higher education institutions – and other public, private and community sector organisations based in the region.

The funding, part of UKRI’s work to create opportunities and improve outcomes locally, and spread over three years, will enable the region’s academics to work directly in the field with community groups and policymakers on a series of research areas across Yorkshire and Humber identified as priorities in an extensive pre-bid consultation exercise.

It will be delivered by a consortium working together as the Yorkshire and Humber Policy Innovation Partnership (Y-PIP) – which comprises all Yorkshire Universities’ members plus, local and mayoral combined authority representatives, the Yorkshire and Humber Policy Engagement and Research Network (Y-PERN), the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission (YHCC), Yorkshire and Humber Applied Research Collaboration, and, crucially, local community groups.

Today, delighted officials at Yorkshire Universities said the new funding would enable its members and partners to build on the success of existing work with Y-PERN, and confirmed that the funded activities under Y-PIP will include:

  • A new Yorkshire and Humber Office of Data Analytics – which will be managed by the University of Sheffield, with support from Y-PERN, YHCC and other universities, to give the public and organisations access to up-to-date, reliable and easy to digest data about the region’s evolving economic, social, and environmental status.

The team will build a Yorkshire Engagement Portal, which will feature vital indicators, including health and deprivation measures, employment statistics, such as salaries and workforce demographics, education, ranging from free school meals data to attainment, air quality and housing stock.

Real-time data and information analytics will ensure local communities are given ‘a voice’ to work with policymakers to coordinate initiatives. Crucially, data will be updated regularly based on the needs and research undertaken with community groups, businesses, councils, and the voluntary sector.

  • The UKRI funding will also help create an Inclusive Business Network and drive inclusive growth in the region.

Extensive stakeholder engagement and roundtable events will be held with employers, business groups, chambers of commerce and community groups across the region to provide an in-depth understanding of the opportunities and challenges faced by businesses in attracting and retaining greater diversity of talent.

The research will examine inclusive business practices – how companies recruit and serve – and how improvements can be made in the workplace to mental health and well-being, recruitment, retention, and flexible working. Initially focused on Sheffield, Barnsley and Rotherham, the project will be rolled out across the wider region, and will be led by Sheffield Hallam University, experts in this field.

  • Sustainable Living in a Greener Economy – there will also be a major climate change initiative examining key regional challenges of cutting carbon emissions while reducing inequality and improving wellbeing.

Led by the YHCC, and including the University of York’s Stockholm Environment Institute, and Leeds Sustainability Institute, based at Leeds Beckett University, and working in tandem with community groups and policy makers, this strand of Y-PIP will examine how heritage buildings can meet Net Zero targets and be more energy efficient without damaging structures or impinging on their character. The work will initially be piloted in the City of York and in the rural areas of North Yorkshire, given the number of historical buildings in this part of the region, before being rolled out to other parts of Yorkshire and the Humber.

  • Creative Economy Pilot in Bradford – Ahead of its Capital of Culture year in 2025, this project will examine how Bradford, the youngest city in Europe, can bring greater diversity and dynamism to and within local creative industries.

This work will explore how artisans and entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups in Bradford can create start-ups, establish business clusters, develop region-wide networks and access new funding within the arts and creative industries. The findings and lessons from the project will be rolled out to other parts of the region. Support will also be provided for younger residents who are intent on building careers via the creative economy and entrepreneurship. The University of Bradford will facilitate links with local networks and host events.

Ahead of the successful Y-PIP bid, an extensive consultation exercise took place. Workshops were held across Yorkshire, which saw 38 public sector, 22 private sector and 30 voluntary and community sector representatives, including residents from disadvantaged and marginalised backgrounds to identify shortfalls, agree priorities and share experiences around the key issues ranging from employment to health and well-being. This work led to the decision to ensure that communities were embedded firmly within Y-PIP.

  • At the heart of Y-PIP will be a community panel – comprised of 12 members with diverse experiences of disadvantage, marginalisation or isolation – who will have their voices heard by key policymakers and researchers in the region.

The ‘communities in their places’ cross-cutting theme will run throughout Y-PIP and it will link together all the different elements of the programme. The University of Hull will play a leading role in steering this novel and innovative work. Y-PIP will resource communities to be equal partners in place-based policy making as a key stepping stone to achieving communities’ inclusion in collaborative regional governance.

Professor Karen Bryan OBE, Chair of Yorkshire Universities, said:

This is a brilliant example of Yorkshire Universities’ core mission to promote and use research and evidence that relates directly to the issues that matter to communities, businesses and policymakers in the region. This pioneering research project, working in tandem with the existing Y-PERN infrastructure, and building on our strategic partnership with Yorkshire and Humber Councils, will see academics work in partnership with communities to identify policy and practical solutions to help overcome social and economic barriers to learning, jobs and community cohesion, and to realise the many opportunities that Yorkshire has to offer.

Note to Editors

About Yorkshire Universities

Comprising a powerhouse of 12 academically flourishing and esteemed higher education institutions – Yorkshire Universities champions the power and potential of Yorkshire as a place where graduates, communities and businesses thrive and enhances the region’s global connections and aspirations by encouraging stronger partnerships between academia and key policymakers.

Since its foundation in 1987, YU has had an unflinching pledge from its members – Leeds Arts University, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds Conservatoire, Leeds Trinity University, Sheffield Hallam University, University of Bradford, University of Huddersfield, University of Hull, University of Leeds, University of Sheffield, University of York, and York St John University – to maximise research funding opportunities for trailblazing collaborations, share best practice, and innovative ideas and use its combined voice to champion the region locally, nationally and globally to ensure Yorkshire continues to flourish and maximise social and economic opportunities. You can read more about YU HERE.

About Y-PIP

Y-PIP is the Yorkshire and Humber Policy Innovation Partnership. It is one of four Local Policy Innovation Partnerships (LPIPs) funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) across the UK.

Key partners in Y-PIP are the twelve higher education members of Yorkshire Universities, local and mayoral combined authority members of Yorkshire and Humber Councils, the Yorkshire and Humber Policy Engagement and Research Network (Y-PERN), the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission, Yorkshire and Humber Applied Research Collaboration, and local community groups.

The University of Leeds will manage the project on behalf of the consortium, which will be led by Professor Gary Dymski from Leeds University Business School.

Y-PIP is designed to empower communities across the region, particularly low income, marginalised and/or spatially isolated communities.

LPIPs aim to address social, community, economic and environmental priorities that contribute towards inclusive sustainable economic growth by connecting local policy and research partners.

About Yorkshire & Humber Policy Engagement & Research (Y-PERN) and how Y-PIP fits in

Y-PERN is a three-year (2022-25) pilot project to widen and deepen collaboration within and across Yorkshire’s 15 local authorities and 2 combined authorities and researchers based at the 12 higher education institutions that are members of Yorkshire Universities. The priority area of focus in Y-PERN is to help develop inclusive local economic strategies and policy by drawing on the broad range of expertise across Yorkshire and underpinned by a team of Policy Fellows based across the region. In practical terms, this means bringing in expertise from across a range of specialisms – economy, climate, health, education, biodiversity, etc – as well as communities and those with lived experiences, to inform economic development. The project is funded through the Research England Development Fund.

Y-PIP will provide significant new resources to commission, construct and implement research jointly between researchers, policymakers and communities, which the Y-PERN infrastructure will help to accelerate and to disseminate.

About UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)

Big challenges demand big thinkers – those who can unlock the answers and further our understanding of the important issues of our time. Our work encompasses everything from the physical, biological and social sciences, to innovation, engineering, medicine, the environment and the cultural impact of the arts and humanities. In all these areas, our role is to bring together the people who can innovate and change the world for the better. We work with the government to invest over £8 billion a year in research and innovation by partnering with academia and industry to make the impossible, possible. Through the UK’s nine leading academic and industrial funding councils, we create knowledge with impact.

Originally posted on Yorkshire Universities