Eleanor Carter

Dr Eleanor Carter has been awarded a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship worth up to £1.2 million to investigate how government can better manage public services outsourcing.

The collapse of probation contractor Working Links in 2019 saw considerable concern over outsourcing. Pioneering new methods, Eleanor’s work is aimed at informing policymakers on how to deliver better social outcomes and greater value from public spending.

Eleanor, currently acting research director of the Government Outcomes Lab, is the first Future Leaders Fellow in Oxford’s Social Sciences Division and only the third in the university. The Future Leaders Fellowships scheme is designed to establish the careers of world-class research and innovation leaders across the UK.

Dr Eleanor Carter said: “I am thrilled: the extended runway of the Future Leaders Fellowship enables me to pursue an urgent research agenda. My Fellowship will bring diligent and original research to help avert further public contracting fiascos and boost the quality of services experienced by some of the most disadvantaged members of society.”

Professor Ngaire Woods, Dean of the Blavatnik School, said: “At the Blavatnik School of Government we are all delighted to see this award go to Eleanor Carter whose work will help government and other stakeholders learn how better to commission services whose quality affects the lives of millions.”

Professor Heather Viles, Associate Head (Research) of the Social Sciences Division, said: “I am delighted that Dr Carter has been awarded this Future Leaders Fellowship for such a timely and important project which clearly demonstrates the importance of social science research in today’s ever-changing world.”

Eleanor’s project, The governance of multi-sector public service delivery networks, will investigate if current government practice of contracting individual public service providers is fit for purpose in a world where people interact with a vast range of services. She explained:

"In the past, governments have purchased a single service – the probation service being a good example. Instead, we need to focus on a network: a network of different provider organisations and specialist charities delivering coherent, holistic, wraparound support." 

Eleanor’s project will mobilise experts from a range of disciplines and government bodies: policy researchers, economists, and public law specialists, as well as policymakers in the Department for Work and Pensions and the Government Inclusive Economy Unit within the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

About UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships

The Future Leaders Fellowships scheme at UK Research and Innovation is designed to establish the careers of world-class research and innovation leaders across the UK. The fellows, based at UK universities and businesses, will be supported through an investment of £109 million. UKRI’s initiative aims to support the creation of a new cohort of research and innovation leaders who will have links across different sectors and disciplines. Awardees will each receive between £400,000 and £1.5 million over an initial four years. The grant supports challenging and novel projects, and the development of the fellow’s career. The funding can also used to support team members, their development, and pay for equipment and other needs.