Baseline Assessments and Benchmarking

Baseline assessment is a starting point in developing a new strategy. The CSES team is familiar both with established methodologies for the characterisation of baselines and a range of UK and international statistics covering a wide range of social and economic indicators. From this basis, we apply the analytical skills required to conduct baseline assessments and establish a firm foundation for further strategy development. Examples of assignments carried out by CSES which have included the development or assessment of a baseline situation include:

  • Dover Baseline Assessment – CSES was appointed to carry out a review of local and regional policies to promote the regeneration of Dover as part of the preparatory work for developing a new strategy.
  • Costs and Benefits of Diversity Policies (DG EMPL) – CSES established baselines with regard to the costs and benefits of policies in European companies to promote diversity.
  • Interim Evaluations of UK 2000-06 Structural Fund Programmes – CSES reviewed and updated the analyses of social and economic baselines in the East of England, East Midlands, East Wales (all Objective 2), and West Wrexham (URBAN II)


Benchmarking involves making systematic comparisons with policies and organisations, both nationally and internationally, with a view to improving performance. In carrying out this type of work, the choice of performance indicator is crucial and should ideally rely on both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Benchmarking also requires sensitivity to motivational considerations and a clear focus on the purpose of the exercise. The CSES team helps to identify ‘best practice’ and describes a feasible route towards matching it. Examples include:

  • Benchmarking Business Incubators (DG ENTR) –  CSES helped to develop a best practice benchmarking framework for business incubators across Europe.
  • Benchmarking the Administration of Business Start-Ups (DG ENTR) - CSES carried out a study comparing the duration and costs of business start-up procedures across EU15 countries.
  • Benchmarking Regional Competitiveness (DG REGIO) – CSES was appointed to benchmark two regions in the UK with a comparator group from ten other EU Member States. The study examined a range of performance indicators and then reviewed policies to explain differences in regional competitiveness.