Jason Lowther

Jason Lowther

Institute of Local Government Studies
Director

Contact details

Address
Institute of Local Government Studies
School of Government
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

A senior fellow and strategic leader, with experience across public sector and private organisations.

I am passionate about improving lives through cost-effective public services, delivered with (not just "to") communities.

My research interests focus on public service reform and the use of "evidence" by public agencies.  This includes how managers and practitioners can access the best information on "what works?" in particular policy areas, and how they can generate new evidence through robust evaluation.

Qualifications

  • MSc in Operational Research
  • Master of Business Administration
  • BSc in Mathematics, Statistics, Operational Research and Economics
  • Currently undertaking doctorate research on public policy

Biography

Head of Policy and Programmes, West Midlands Combined Authority
2015 - 2019

Most recently I worked with the Economy and Strategy directorate, supporting the development of strategy and policy across the region, delivering early stage programmes such as the Creative Industries "Scale Up" programme and a new regional Screen Industry Body, and leading on policy research around housing, homelessness and youth employment. I helped the West Midlands Combined Authority to develop its strategic approach - including work on devolution and spending reviews.

I led on research including the concept, funding bid and development of the Office for Data Analytics (details: https://www.nesta.org.uk/report/state-offices-data-analytics-uk/west-midlands-office-data-analytics-wmoda/#content).

Earlier I worked on secondment from BCC, developing the WMCA from its earliest days and supporting early work on Public Service Reform. This led to a series of major programmes around mental health, employment and skills, criminal justice and inclusive growth.

Assistant Director (Strategy), Birmingham City Council
2004 - 2015

Responsible for helping the council agree its priorities, and then making sure we deliver them.

My role includes strategy, performance, leadership support, research, consultation and customer insight, European and international issues, communications and public affairs. I have led on major transformational programmes such as Public Health transfer and Troubled Families. I developed and led service review programmes which saved £461m.

Achievements include:

  • Ensured clear strategic direction through annual Leader's Policy Statement
  • Led public engagement on Council's direction (8,000 responses and 250k reach on social media)
  • Developed and led whole council service review programme
  • Led transfer of public health from NHS (until appointment of new DPH)
  • Led development of "troubled families" programme locally and with national team
  • Introduced innovative communications approaches such as on-line newsroom and social media
  • Led use of customer insight to drive behavioural change and reduce service demand
  • Transformed comms delivery including on-line consultation and engagement, and live streaming
  • Led innovative finance and service models (eg social impact bonds, community budgets)
  • Negotiated Local Area Agreement with national government and across local partners
  • Developed national exemplar work on evaluation and the use of evidence

Board Member - Programme Advisory Board for Public Health Research, National Institute for Health Research
April 2013 – Present

The Advisory Board helps the NIHR to identify what areas of public health research are of particular relevance to local areas. As a Board member I develop and analyse proposals, and work with the Board to agree decisions on which proposals to support for further development.

National Value for Money lead and Head of Community Safety, Audit Commission
2000 – 2004 

Led national value for money work on community safety, with local councils, police and probation services.

Developed innovative service and financial improvement approaches and deployed these through national network of advisers and inspectors.

Co-authored national Audit Commission study on GP Prescribing, leading to significant cost savings to the NHS. Included training GPs and colleagues in addressing the issues identified.

Regional Value For Money Lead (cross-sector), Audit Commission
1994 – 2000 

Delivered value for money reviews and improvements across the region.

Covered all local public services (NHS commissioners, provider trusts, GPs, police, ambulance, fire, local councils)

Led regional team of around 40 vfm specialists including relationship management with clients and other strands of the Audit Commission, locally and nationally.

Credit & Risk Management and Operational Research, HSBC
1992- – 1994 

Led the development of new products and analyses to manage risk and enable responsible lending.

Pioneered new approaches to forecasting future default on the bank's personal loan portfolios (using Markov chain theory) and on credit risk assessment (around inferring behaviour for rejected applicants).

Higher Scientific Officer, Metropolitan Police
1988 – 1990 

Part of internal management consultancy team. Led projects including revising police officers' shift patterns to better match demand profiles, and improve staff well being.

Involved in TOPSY and CRIS major IT programmes to help management and analysis of crime and staffing intelligence.

Teaching

Recent teaching has included:

  • Making Policy
  • Evidence-Based Policy
  • Integrated Care
  • Leadership of Public Services

Research

My research interests focus on public service reform and the use of "evidence" by public agencies.  This includes how managers and practitioners can access the best information on "what works?" in particular policy areas, and how they can generate new evidence through robust evaluation.

Current projects include:

  • Public Service Reform
  • Combined Authorities
  • Evaluation of the Troubled Families Programme
  • Innovation in Public Services
  • Using evidence in public service reform

Publications

Lowther, Jason. "Social policy review 29: analysis and debate in social policy 2017." (2018): 1-3. 

Lowther, Jason. "Fiona Spotswood, Beyond behaviour change: key issues, interdisciplinary approaches and future directions." (2017): 869-871. 

Lowther, Jason. "Gerry Stoker and Mark Evans, Evidence-based policy making in the social sciences: methods that matter." (2017): 871-873.

Lowther, Jason. "100 Statistical Tests." Journal of the Operational Research Society 46.2 (1995): 269-270.

Lowther, Jason. "Developments in the Management of Human Resources."Journal of the Operational Research Society 45.8 (1994): 960-960.

Lowther, Jason. "Innovative Applications of Artificial Intelligence 2." Journal of the Operational Research Society 44.12 (1993): 1249-1249.

Lowther, Jason. "Practitioner's guide to quality and process improvement."Journal of the Operational Research Society 46.2 (1995): 268-268.

Lowther, Jason. "Quantitative approaches in business studies." Journal of the Operational Research Society 45.5 (1994): 598-599.

Lowther, Jason. "Statistical inference for branching processes." Journal of the Operational Research Society 43.11 (1992): 1110-1110.

Lowther, Jason. "Strategic Decision Making." Journal of the Operational Research Society 44.7 (1993): 738-738.

Lowther, Jason. "The Escapism of Operations Research." Journal of the Operational Research Society 44.4 (1993): 417-417.