Headlines: October 21st, 2003

Oxford University has established a new company that aims to help local government tackle social exclusion. Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion – OCSI – will provide expert analysis to facilitate the tasks of identifying deprived neighbourhoods, targeting resources, evaluating programme effectiveness and strengthening regeneration bids. It is the University’s first ever spin out company from the social sciences.The consultancy is based on nearly two decades of research, initiated by Michael Noble and George Smith at the Social Disadvantage Research Centre in the University’s Department of Social Policy and Social Work.

The company will provide an applied service using administrative data, alongside the research carried out by the SDRC. It is aimed at local and regional government and other public sector bodies and the new venture says its expertise will be an essential aid in identifying, analysing and interpreting the mass of small area deprivation information released by government.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has said that the Single Regeneration Budget is expected to involve funding of 23 billion pounds to disadvantaged areas by 2007. In addition, 5 billion of the three-year Sustainable Communities programme has been earmarked for regenerating deprived areas. That says the company, means that to make the most impact with limited resources, local government needs to get it right and it can sort through the mass of data available to allow authorities to make the best-informed decisions about local spending.

The Social Disadvantage Research Centre has a distinguished track record in analysing social deprivation. It pioneered the widespread use of national administrative data, creating up-to-date and consistent information on all areas of the country and laying the foundation for the Office of National Statistics’ major initiative on neighbourhood statistics.

The centre’s latest research concentrates on measuring trends and the impact of major government social programmes on disadvantaged areas for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Department for Education and Skills, and the Treasury.