Leadership announcements

Annual Report and Accounts 2015

Introduction by Professor Sir Robert Burgess
  • Authors:
    Guy Goodwin
    Professor Sir Robert Burgess
  • Publishing date:
    1 December 2015

The National Centre for Social Research also trades under the name "NatCen Social Research" and is referred to throughout this report as "NatCen".

The Trustees present this annual report with the audited financial statements for the year to 30th June 2015. At NatCen we are driven by the belief that social research has the power to make life better. Our research works for society by providing a rich understanding of people's views, circumstances and behaviours to underpin social policy-making and help address the many challenges society faces.

NatCen has achieved much this year including the delivery of projects across the full social policy spectrum. We have continued to share our findings with decision-makers, opinion-formers and practitioners. These included ten national statistics surveys, complex policy evaluations and work in challenging areas such as Electoral Fraud and homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.

NatCen is committed to delivering public benefit. This year we have continued to play a key role in building social research capacity in the UK and will be accepting our first Q Step placement students as part of our commitment to rebuilding the quantitative skill base of social science graduates. We are committed to methodological innovation and tackling the many research challenges the research community faces.

We are sharing our extensive knowledge of people and society, and findings from our studies, more widely through events and making our data available to others for analysis through data archives. We have drawn regularly on data from our annual surveys of attitudes, British Social Attitudes and Scottish Social Attitudes, to influence the news agenda and contribute to topical policy debates throughout the year, most markedly around Scottish independence and racial prejudice.

This impressive impact has been achieved despite a difficult financial year. Along with other research organisations we continued to experience the impact of a changing landscape for the social research market, reflected in fewer, smaller commissions that are attracting greater competition. Our financial results reflect this and we continue to reorganise our operations to meet the market challenges which we face. We have seen success in term of the delivery of our research projects and our impact, but NatCen continues to face a difficult market and, this has resulted in NatCen recording a further deficit this year.

Our Chief Executive, Penny Young, left in May 2015, and the Company is being led by an Interim Chief Operating Officer while we recruit a new Chief Executive. Working with the Senior Management Team, the Interim COO has produced a new 3 year plan for the Company which has been approved by the Board of Trustees. The Company aims to return to financial health over this period.

Our role as Trustees is to provide stewardship of the organisation. We have overseen many changes within the organisation to modernise and streamline our business, and as a Board we are confident that NatCen remains in a good position to continue to deliver the high quality and impactful research that society needs.

I would like to thank my colleagues on the Board for their ongoing commitment to NatCen, and their continued willingness to lend NatCen their expertise, experience, challenge and insight. In addition, I would like to thank our colleagues in NatCen who continue to develop our research and disseminate our findings, thereby contributing to the process of policy-making. My colleagues on the Board join with me in wishing them every continued success.