Welcome to the first Research for Action newsletter!

Research for Action was set up last year as a workers’ co-operative by Fanny, Joel and Vica.

It had been in the pipeline for a while as we wanted to set up an organisation that would enable us to develop independent research that was meaningful to us and useful for furthering social, economic and environmental justice, and do so in a sustainable way. After many brainstorming sessions, post-it notes, cups of coffee and multiple name choices, Research for Action was born.

It has been an exciting year for us.

We were awarded a grant by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust which is enabling us to undertake a citizen debt audit in Newham. The project builds on the previous work we did at Debt Resistance UK on LOBO loans. We are now collecting evidence of the impact of austerity in Newham so to initiate a conversation about the illegality and illegitimacy of the council’s LOBO debt. Here are 10 reasons why we chose Newham, the UK’s debt capital.

Based on our experience with local government finance, last summer we published a guide on how to use the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 to object to spending decisions not undertaken in the public interest. You can download a copy here.

We are also developing a line of investigation on Grenfell Tower and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. In January, we coordinated an open letter which highlighted KPMG’s conflict of interest in the official inquiry: they audited Celotex, the parent company which produced the flammable cladding, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and Rydon Group. Following coverage of the letter in the FT and the Guardian, KPMG was forced to resign. Our investigation, which includes participation in the inquiry and FOI research, is ongoing. You can read more about it here.

These are our three main strands of work for now. Below are some of our most recent news and upcoming events – including a one-year anniversary party. We hope to see you there!

We will be updating you on the development of Research for Actions investigations via this newsletter. If you don’t want to receive it in the future, unsubscribe here. You have been added as you are subscribed to the Debt Resistance UK Newsletter on local authority debt audit, for which Research for Action will be developing some of the research.


Cuts in Newham – come and share your experiences!

Sunday 18 March 2018, 2-4pm

Sylvia’s Corner, 97 Aldworth Road, Stratford, London E15 4DN

Do you live in Newham? Have you been affected by cuts in services? Come to this open meeting to share your story with us. We will be sharing information about our research into Newham’s LOBO loan debt, and together we can discuss how austerity cuts and debt are related and what we can do about it. There will be hot drinks and snacks. This is the first of a series of open meetings we are organising as part of our citizen debt audit. If you live in Newham or are part of a campaign group there, please get in touch if you would like to be involved in organising a similar meeting in the future.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1627857590617207/


Research for Action anniversary party

Wednesday 21 March 2018, 7-10pm

Newspeak House, 133 Bethnal Green Road, London, E2 7DG

How can research support grassroots movements? Can research be a tool for action? How can we avoid replicating oppressive structures such as class in our research work?  Research for Action was set up a year ago to support campaigning for social, environmental and economic justice. For this event, we want to bring together researchers, journalists and activists to discuss the relationship between research and action – and to celebrate our first anniversary! The event will start with a panel discussion with excellent speakers (lineup behind the link), followed by interventions from the audience. Afterwards there will be music and refreshments. The event is free but please register so we know how many people to expect.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1981052578813237/


Debt audits in the UK and abroad

22 March 2018, 6:30-9pm

Blooms @ Runway East Featherstone, 19-21 Featherstone Street, London, EC1Y 8SL

On 22 March, we are hosting a roundtable on experiences of debt audits in the UK and abroad. We are joined by guests from Madrid and Barcelona that are part of a network of municipalities campaigning against illegitimate debt and cuts across the Spanish state, as well as a researcher who worked on the Parliamentary debt audit that argued Greece’s debt is illegal, illegitimate and odious. Research for Action and People’s Audit will be presenting their work on local government audits in the UK. The event is free but please register by the 20 March as places are limited and we will need to present a guest list for the building reception.


Cuts and Contempt: Experiences of austerity and council democracy in Newham

We have published the summary of our research into Newham residents’ experiences of council services, cuts and democracy. For the study, we interviewed 51 resid ents in different locations across Newham. We found that although most respondents were satisfied with the services they used, the majority felt their needs were not being met by the council, and we heard harrowing stories of how people were let down by cuts.You can view the summary below and on our website here. The full report will be published in April. It is part of the evidence collection for our citizen debt audit in Newham.

Information Commissioner issues decision notices to Kensington & Chelsea

In August and September, we submitted Freedom of Information requests to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) regarding Grenfell Tower as well as the oversight and management of council properties. The local authority failed to get back to us even after we had exhausted the internal complaints process, so we took the matter to the Information Commissioner. She issued a decision notice following our complaint (and complaints of others), which was covered by the Guardian. You can read the whole story about our battle for information from RBKC in our blog.