CRESR Seminar - Bids, Fibs and Deadlines: personal reflections on 35 years of contract research

Start date: 
Wed, 08/07/2015
Closing date: 
Wed, 08/07/2015
Sheffield Hallam University, City Campus, Stoddart Building, Room 7516
Event contact: 
Ian Wilson & Will Eadson

Time: 4.00-5.00 pm

Ian Cole - Sheffield Hallam University


In this personal retrospective, Ian Cole will reflect on his experiences of undertaking contract research over the past thirty five years. This will range from working on his first research contract examining the social effects of coalfield developments (won one month before the election of the Thatcher government dedicated to getting rid of them) to the rationale behind the creation of CRESR as a research centre in 1986 to the recent evaluation of Housing Benefit in the private rented sector. Blending personal anecdote, analytical insight and dogmatic assertion, Ian Cole will address some of the criticisms that have been made about undertaking contract research activity in an academic institution - that it is intellectually arid, too politically malleable, unduly focused on the short term, and that it is primarily a vehicle for academic careerism in financially driven higher education institutions. He will counter such criticisms by reference to the most controversial research project undertaken in his career - the Housing Market Renewal programme. This was a regeneration programme in which large-scale investment in housing markets in the North of England was mirrored by large-scale academic hyperbole and personal vitriol from protagonists and opponents alike about its rationale and impact. Ian's lecture will therefore present the case for contract research - a necessary act for him, given the amount of time he has devoted to it.


Ian Cole is Professor of Housing Studies and a Principal Research Fellow in the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University. He has directed a wide range of research projects for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), regional bodies, local authorities and housing associations. Professor Cole directed a major evaluation (2011 to 2014) for DWP of reforms to Housing Benefit in the private rented sector, and has just commenced a small-scale study for Crisis examining the potential impact of withdrawing Housing Benefit from some 18 to 21 year olds. Professor Cole was appointed as special adviser to three House of Commons Select Committee inquiries: on the impact of regeneration; low housing demand; and housing market renewal. He chaired a Ministerial Advisory Panel on the future of regulation in the social housing sector, resulting in the publication of the Cole report (2009). He was the independent chair to the Investment and Involvement Commission set up by Rochdale MBC, which led directly to the creation of the largest mutual housing organisation in the country, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, in 2012.

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