The initiative will start in January and be carried out by Exeter University and a consortium of 12 local authorities in the south-west of England.
In response yesterday to a parliamentary question Mr Burns said: 'The aim of this new initiative is to help local authorities improve the cost-effectiveness of social services through better use of research evidence. I am very pleased to say that contractual terms have now been agreed and contracts are likely to be signed very shortly with Exeter University and a consortium of 12 directors of social services in the south west of England for this jointly funded initiative, beginning in January 1997.'
The aims of the project are to:
-- ensure that research findings are available to local authorities
-- ensure that social work education and training incorporates research knowledge
-- start new research where major gaps are identified
Professor Swales, director of research and development at the department of health, said: 'This work will demonstrate in one region how the results of research can be used to directly influence local services and improve service quality for the benefit of users.'