We maintain our leadership position in methodological innovation through our on-going proprietary investment and research. Yet we never seek out ‘the new’ for its own sake. Our aim is to be able to offer our clients the optimum research approach to match their needs, delivering value, based on quality and integrity, in all that we do.
TNS BMRB has been helping government to evaluate key policy for many years and has undertaken a number of flagship evaluations across departments. We support government in this task by offering robust and reliable research methods, innovative approaches, and insightful and strategic outputs.
We provide responsive and robust evaluation exploring: policy implementation (formative evaluation); how policy is delivered (process evaluation); what difference the policy makes (impact assessment); and how far the benefits justify the costs (economic analysis). Current and recent work includes high profile evaluations in the areas of work and employment (e.g. Youth Contract, Jobcentre Plus Offer); education (e.g. Pupil Premium, FE Reforms, Community Learning) and children and families policy (e.g. Parenting Classes, Child Poverty Pilots).
Research Experts: Mark Peters, Desiree Lopez | Contact
Many of the most important social issues of our time, from the environment to obesity, relate to the arena of behaviour change. Our expertise supports the effective targeting of resources in public issue campaigns. At TNS BMRB, we believe that behavioural insight research has a much broader relevance than informing ‘behaviour change’ activities. Understanding the reasons for people’s behaviour is vital for designing services that work effectively for customers and efficiently for providers, as well as developing interventions that are intended to influence change.
TNS BMRB uses the latest thinking in behavioural theory to rationalise the way consumers behave into a simple model – this is a pragmatic, systematic approach that goes against conventional methods of behaviour change research, and works in the real world to help clients develop and implement successful behaviour change programmes. Current and recent research includes:
- Evaluation of health behaviour change programmes for Public Health England, including Change4Life, Tobacco control and Be Clear On Cancer
- Evaluation of the THINK! road safety campaigns (DfT)
- Evaluation of the GREAT Business campaign (BIS)
- Behavioural insight research on taxation compliance behaviours and new digital services (HMRC)
- Behavioural insight research on changes to child maintenance arrangements (DWP)
Research Experts: Helen Angle, Ben Toombs | Contact
The focus of the Communications Research Centre (CRC) is on helping clients to develop communications which are based on real insights into the influences on people’s behaviour, both automatic and reflective.
Improving public services
In 2011, TNS BMRB set up the Centre for Service Improvement, a specialist team dedicated to uncovering insights to help public sector clients reduce costs and improve service delivery, drawing on best practice in the commercial sector. Our approaches include customer satisfaction measurement, customer journey mapping and experience testing.
We work closely with our clients and their stakeholders to uncover the real business need, then draw on a full range of traditional and innovative techniques to address the underlying research questions.
Research Experts: Ben Toombs | Contact
TNS BMRB has an outstanding reputation for successfully delivering large-scale social surveys. We are trusted with a number of the flagship government surveys which are used to provide National and Official Statistics. These include the Crime Survey for England and Wales, Scottish Crime and Justice Survey, Taking Part, Active People, National Survey for Wales and Community Life Survey.
Our success is founded on combining technical expertise, operational excellence and methodological rigour with a readiness to innovate to solve research problems and drive value for our clients.
Research Experts: Bruce Hayward, Keith Bolling | Contact
The UK has a long and renowned history of using longitudinal research to map life trajectories and understand the factors that influence life outcomes. TNS BMRB is proud to be associated with this heritage through our work on some of the most important academic and government studies.
We are the University of Essex’s field research partner for waves six to eight of Understanding Society (the world’s largest household longitudinal study), and research partner to the Institute of Education on the 1958 and 1970 birth cohort studies. We also undertake the DfE’s Longitudinal Study of Young People in England, the first major longitudinal survey in the UK to adopt web-based interviewing within a mixed mode data collection strategy.
Research Experts: Bruce Hayward | Contact
Emerging and experimental qualitative methods
We believe that qualitative research has never had a more important role to play in helping government understand the needs, motivations, views and priorities of the British public. More than ever, it will be important to evaluate where improvements and efficiencies can be made across public services.
We offer all key qualitative methods from in-depth interviews and focus groups, to ethnography, deliberative, online, visual methods and peer-led research. We also specialise in research with ‘hard to reach’ groups including those on low incomes, the learning disabled, those with mental health issues, black and minority ethnic communities, and children and young people.
Research Experts: Desiree Lopez | Contact
Within the TNS BMRB qualitative practice, we have expertise in using visual methods for data collection and in support of research dissemination. Our team has experience with film, animation, photography, visual ethnography and other forms of visual methods which supplement our wider qualitative research work. This enables us to bring to life the experiences of our respondents, as well as document real behaviours and practices.
Public engagement and consultation can help place public views at the heart of policy and enable communities to assist in shaping services. It can also promote public legitimacy, involving people in difficult choices about priority setting.
At the heart of what we do are good principles of citizen engagement – involving a range of people in a process, enabling them to consider and learn about the issues at hand, and providing engaging ways to make trade-offs about complex decisions. Our research can also empower and motivate people to respond to the challenges they face locally.
TNS BMRB has been appointed to work for a number of ministers and the prime minster over recent years to lead national public engagement programs on a wide variety of public policy issues. These include work for the Department of Health on the future of primary healthcare delivery, work for the Dilnot commission on the future of social care, public engagement attended by the then PM Gordon Brown on the future of policing, and for MoJ Ministers of State on whether Britain should have a written constitution.
Research Experts: Desiree Lopez | Contact
TNS BMRB has its own specialist survey methods team, a dedicated team of experts applying thought leadership and best practice. The team is responsible for gathering the latest methodological evidence to ensure that our designs have a strong theoretical and empirical basis; providing recommendations to both clients and colleagues on methodological issues; and driving best practice within TNS BMRB through formal and informal training.
In particular, we have a strong track record evaluating the risks and benefits of transforming established survey designs so that modern technological developments can be incorporated.
Research Experts: Joel Williams, Bruce Hayward | Contact
TNS BMRB, alongside colleagues at TNS NIPO (Netherlands) and TNS Infratest (Germany), forms the European Methods Group to share international experience and thought leadership around advanced methods. Between us, we form the leading agency practice on applied social research methods in Europe.
Social and political attitudes
Our understanding of changing social and political attitudes provides a vital context to our work. Social trends will influence the outcome of behaviour change policy, satisfaction and public services, and the resilience of the population in terms of health, personal finance and wellbeing. Moreover, social trends also influence the public’s interest and willingness to engage in social research.
As well as working directly for clients interested in political behaviour, our social and political researchers undertake work that we share (through our Public Opinion Monitor and through the media) to contribute to public debate. Our work includes voting intention polling and social trends analysis, both of which are publicly available.
Research Experts: Luke Taylor | Contact
The Centre for International Development Research provides specialist social research expertise on key development issues, as well as specialised training for researchers working in developing countries. It aims to bring together our social and political research methods expertise, a growing multi-country practice, and our sincere interest in civic participation and public policy engagement.
Research into adult English and maths
A new focus on e-learning
What is the background to the work?
BIS has commissioned a new research project to understand the longer term impacts of adults’ English and maths learning, as well as the relative effectiveness of different approaches to the delivery of adult learning. TNS BMRB is leading this work, in partnership with AlphaPlus, NIACE and NIESR. The project has already received the support of many colleges, local authorities and other learning organisations. We are now looking to ensure that the e-learning sector, which constitutes a vital part of the adult learning landscape, is properly represented in the programme of research.
What are we aiming to achieve?
This programme of research should provide a better understanding of:
- The impact of participation in English and maths learning over time
- Does confidence gained from courses lead to further skills gain in the long term?
- Are certain topics of learning more likely to ‘stick’ than others after courses have finished?
- The relative effectiveness of different approaches to delivering adults’ English and maths learning
How will we do this work?
The research has two strands:
- A longitudinal study (where learners are interviewed at different stages of their learning journey) to examine skills gain, skills maintenance or skills loss over time and the impact of participation in learning
- A randomised control trial (RCT) to determine the relative effectiveness of different delivery models (blended learning and face-to-face provision)
What will be the impact of this work?
The data collected from this study will provide important information on the impact of participating in English and maths learning on adults’ lives. It will also provide data on the relative effectiveness of e-learning, blended and face to face learning which may help to inform how learning can most effectively be delivered in the future. The longer term impact of courses on skills, in particular, is an area where there are currently quite significant knowledge gaps.
How can I get involved?
NIACE and TNS BMRB are recruiting e-learning providers who are interested in participating in the longitudinal study with learners on English and maths courses at a range of levels. Learners will be required to complete a paper-based survey during September or October (within 2 weeks of enrolment). The survey will take approximately an hour to complete. Surveys will be delivered to learning providers for completion in a classroom environment. Follow-up interviews will then be conducted at the end of their course and one year after their course ends (but your involvement would only be necessary in the very first of the three stages). The learners will be given a voucher as a thank you for taking part and can opt out of the survey at any stage.
We are also interested to hear from providers wishing to join the RCT in September/October 2014. Please contact us to discuss this further on EandMresearch@niace.org.uk
How to find out more and keep up to date
- For more information about the research, or how to get involved, just click on either of the links below to register your interest by email: Sarah.Hingley@tns-bmrb.co.uk or Richard.Brind@tns-bmrb.co.uk
- Or you can call Sarah on or Richard on
- To find out the latest information, visit the project page: http://www.niace.org.uk/current-work/quantitative-programme-of-research-for-adult-english-and-maths