The Blog

The ‘I’s have it! – Innovation, inclusion, investment and integration

SUII’s current themed programme of work is focussed on better understanding the features of vibrant innovation systems and how best they can be stimulated and progress assessed. In particular it aims to draw out the implications for policy and practice in Scotland. As we approached the end of the programme Scotland’s Futures Forum hosted a workshop in the Scottish Parliament to bring together the five individual projects in the programme to report back and identify some cross cutting themes.

Continue reading “The ‘I’s have it! – Innovation, inclusion, investment and integration”

Community credit unions and payroll deduction: a report on a field trial

Representatives from credit unions, universities, Carnegie UK Trust, the Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council, the Ethical Finance Hub and others, met last week at the City Chambers for the launch of a new report on the opportunities and challenges facing community credit unions in initiating payroll deduction schemes.

The report, Credit Unions and Payroll Deduction published on International Credit Union Day (20 October 2016) is based on work by  academics Dr Kathryn Waite and Dr Robbie Mochrie, as part of a SUII follow up programme, in collaboration with the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals and two community credit unions based in Glasgow – Drumchapel Credit Union and Greater Govan Credit Union.

Continue reading “Community credit unions and payroll deduction: a report on a field trial”

Innovation in Action

Innovation is one of four priorities in the Scottish Government’s 2015 – 2018 Economic Strategy, and is considered vital for the development of a competitive, sustainable, resilient and prosperous economy. Innovation is a vital component in improving productivity in any economy and as Paul Krugman said “Productivity isn’t everything, but in the long run it is almost everything.”

Fostering cultures of innovation is the current SUII programme theme (project details here http://www.scottishinsight.ac.uk/Programmes/Innovation2016.aspx ).

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European Union Innovation Scorecard

The EU’s Innovation Scorecard classifies Scotland as an ‘Innovation Follower’ (see map). But within the overall assessment there is a much more varied picture. The biggest contrast is perhaps between the level of business and public sector R&D, with the latter being well above the EU average. Continue reading “Innovation in Action”

Statistics, wellbeing and policy

In the week that we celebrated World Statistics Day it seems fitting to reflect back on what I learned recently at the OECD World Forum on Statistics, Knowledge and Policy in Mexico. The forum was the fifth of its kind over the last decade that have focussed on the need for better measures and policies for societal progress. This year, the strapline, ‘Transforming Policy, Changing Lives’ signalled a move forward from simply measuring progress, to translating these measures into policy and practice.

The conference highlighted that much work has been done in recent years to develop robust indicators and collect data on wellbeing across different countries, and there was a strong sense that wellbeing is now part of a mainstream agenda, backed by evidence and data. This is coupled with a growing international acceptance of the need to move beyond GDP as the sole measure of progress. Continue reading “Statistics, wellbeing and policy”

Which children? Whose views? Intersectional Childhoods and Inequalities

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh and University of Strathclyde, together with the Scottish Human Rights Commission and Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People,  have recently concluded a seminar series on ‘Children’s Rights, Social Justice and Social Identities in Scotland: Intersections in Research, Policy and Practice’, funded by the  Scottish Universities Insight Institute.

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The concept of ‘intersectionality’ has become increasingly popular within and beyond academia, whether in debates about feminism or in relation to the multiple forms of discrimination faced by particular social groups.

In short, intersectionality is about understanding the different and unequal social and economic outcomes for particular groups based on interactions between race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, age and ethnicity. This means to recognise the diversity within seemingly ‘homogenous’ groups (such as ‘women’ or ‘children’), and to draw attention to how the actions of social movements and policy makers often minimize the importance of differences within and between such groups.

Its growing popularity has led to intersectionality being described as a ‘buzzword’ (Davis, 2008), yet there is little discussion about the place of children and young people in such debates. Continue reading “Which children? Whose views? Intersectional Childhoods and Inequalities”

Working wellbeing into the heart of Government

Martyn Evans, Co-Chair of the Carnegie Roundtable on Measuring Wellbeing in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has topped UK tables for self-reported wellbeing, featuring in four out of the five happiest places in the UK. But behind this headline, challenges remain. Recently released figures show that 12,000 people visited Northern Ireland’s emergency departments last year due to self-harm or suicidal thoughts, and that there were 2,112 water pollution incidents in Northern Ireland in 2013.

The above figures show that in order for the Northern Ireland Executive to assess how Northern Ireland is progressing, it needs to consider not just its economic performance, but also how the lives of its citizens are improving, if, in fact, they are. That is not to say that the economy is not important – participants in the focus groups commissioned by the Carnegie Roundtable on Measuring Wellbeing in Northern Ireland told us that unemployment is a priority for communities in Northern Ireland. But, equally, so are addressing social isolation and mental health issues, according to their feedback.What is wellbeing

This is why in its new report the Carnegie Roundtable has called for the Executive to develop a wellbeing framework, Continue reading “Working wellbeing into the heart of Government”

Wellbeing Exhibition: Engaging with Policymakers

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From 24-26 February 2015 we took over a small space in the members’ lobby at the Scottish Parliament to showcase the work from our recent Wellbeing Programme. The exhibition brought together the findings from our six funded programmes and provided a way of engaging in discussions with MSPs and Government officials. The programme was seeking to address three broad questions:

  • What influences individual and societal wellbeing?
  • How best to measure wellbeing and what influences it to help shape and guide policy and practice?
  • How best to promote and embed improved wellbeing?

The objective of the initiative was to make a contribution to the development of policy and practice in Scotland and elsewhere, including the development of Scotland’s National Performance Framework, ‘Scotland Performs’.

A wellbeing approach attempts to take a balanced look across social, economic and environmental dimensions at understanding what influences the wellbeing of citizens and society at large, and measuring progress. It’s not about any one factor such as health or income, it’s about a range of influences – Charlie Woods, Director SUII

Continue reading “Wellbeing Exhibition: Engaging with Policymakers”