Innovative early career researcher wins prestigious £1.2 million UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship

Black and white portrait of Dr Eleanor Carter

Dr Eleanor Carter of the Blavatnik School of Government has been awarded a prestigious UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship worth up to £1.2 million to investigate the critical issue of 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, Dr Carter’s work is aimed at informing policymakers on how to deliver better social outcomes and greater value from public spending.

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

Dr Carter says, ‘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 Heather Viles, Associate Head (Research) of the Social Sciences Division, says, ‘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.’

Professor Ngaire Woods, Dean of the Blavatnik School, says ‘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.’

Dr Carter’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 explains, ‘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.’

Dr Carter’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 & Sport.

Discover Oxford's three new UKRI Future Leaders Fellows

About UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships

The Future Leaders Fellowships scheme, which is run by UK Research and Innovation, will recognise up to 550 individuals with a total investment of £900 million committed over 3 years. The scheme helps universities and businesses in the UK recruit, develop and retain the world’s best researchers and innovators, regardless of their background. They can apply for up to £1.5 million to support the research and innovation leaders of the future, keeping the UK at the cutting edge of innovation. Each fellowship will last four to seven years.

Round six of the Future Leaders Fellowships is currently open to applications. Researchers interested in this opportunity should speak to their department in the first instance.