We work in the UK and Europe on innovation in public service reform. We are particularly in interested in social innovation, the process whereby new solutions are created that simultaneously address pressing social needs and lead to new or improved capabilities and relationships. Thus, social innovations are innovations that use social means to achieve social ends.

In our research on social innovation and public service reform we have explored the role of co-production and co-creation in the design of services. These are approaches where people help design and deliver the services they use. This in turn has led us to research and evaluate asset or strengths-based approaches in which public services move from deficit-based models of service delivery to models that build on people’s strengths, working with them as experts in their own lives and asking what matters to them rather than what’s the matter with them.

Our approach is multi-disciplinary and we bring together researchers from a number of disciplines including sociology, business studies and economics.

Areas of work include:

  • Co-production and co-creation. We are part of a European-wide consortium that has undertaken several projects on public service reform with a particular focus on the co-creation of public services. We are also working on new approaches to evaluating co-produced and co-created services in social care and exploring the potential to apply co-production principles in other areas of the public sector, such as criminal justice.
  • Innovation in commissioning. We are interested in new and innovative approaches to commissioning public services. Over recent years we have been particularly interested in outcomes-based commissioning and payment by results, including Social Imact Bonds.
  • Strengths-based and relational models of service delivery. In a number of research projects we have explored strengths-based approaches to delivering services in different sectors including social care, housing and criminal justice.

Latest Social Innovation Projects

Skill Mill SIB Evaluation

Skill Mill is a social enterprise highly regarded for innovative approaches to addressing youth crime while bringing social and environmental benefits to communities.

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Evaluation of Social Impact Bonds that utilise strengths-based, co-created ways of working

PERU has been commissioned by Bridges Outcomes Partnerships to evaluation two social-outcomes contracts that are tackling homelessness using strengths-based and co-created ways of working with people.

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Social Impact Bonds 2.0: exploring the future of SIBs

To achieve their potential SIBs must be re-configured to become a catalyst for innovation, driving public sector reform and addressing new social and economic needs in the post-Covid world.

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The Big Life Group – Multi Modal Practitioner (MMP) evaluation

In partnership with the Ministry of Justice and the Barrow Cadbury Trust, PERU researchers are undertaking a qualitative study on the views and experiences of participants in the Chance to Change pilots.

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Doing gig work: Social implications of platform-based food deliveries

This research aims to study the platform-based gig economy and its reconfiguration of urban spaces by investigating the management, solidarity and resistance of cycle couriers in three European cities: Manchester, Lyon (France) and Cluj-Napoca (Romania).

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Evaluating the Money and Work prototype

An evaluation of Macmillan Cancer Support’s Money and Work prototype, which was being implemented in Nottinghamshire between April 2019 and April 2020.

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