About TRL Insight

Tom Lawrence

TRL Insight is the trading name of Tom Lawrence.

I have been working for local authorities and related organisations since 2001. Since turning freelance in 2013, my work has included:

  • Compiling a set of case studies for the Local Government Association (LGA) on the relationship between health and economic prosperity;
  • Research for the LGA on the fragmentation of local government grant funding from central government;
  • Self-publishing my Building Freedom report on how public sector accounting practice by the Government holds back in homes and infrastructure;
  • Creating two spreadsheet tools for the LGA to support its work on the Fair Funding Review;
  • Carrying out research and analysis in support of some of LG Futures’ highly respected benchmarking reports;
  • Providing analysis and advice in relation to proposals for both 50% Business Rate Retention and 100% Business Rate Retention;
  • Writing dozens of briefings, blogs, journal articles and guides on local government finance, service transformation, accountability and related issues;
  • Running training sessions for councillors and officers on local government finance;
  • Chairing and participating in meetings of senior local government figures on Devolution Deals;
  • Participating as an expert panellist in a Guardian LiveChat.

See Feeds for examples of my work, along with blog posts and tweets.

2017-2018, I also held the post of Senior Researcher in School Funding at the Education Policy Institute. During this time, I co-authored a high profile report on school balances, teacher pay and the National Funding Formula. Then in 2021-22, I held the post of consultant at Pragmatix Advisory. During this time, I co-authored a report on improving infrastructure funding and delivery and contributed significantly to one on resilient high streets.(See Feeds for more on both.)

Prior to turning freelance, i worked for London Councils and the London Borough of Lewisham. During this time, my work included:

  • Modelling income and expenditure trends and creating budget projections;
  • Providing bespoke analysis to council finance officers, including creating analysis tools for them to use;
  • Negotiating on behalf of London at meetings chaired by Government departments;
  • Compiling a collection of case studies on infrastructure investment for a London Councils micro-website and running an associated launch event;
  • Writing and drafting responses to numerous government consultations, mainly on local government finance matters;
  • Modelling the impact of potential changes to Formula Grant;
  • Administering and running finance officer meetings and member meetings, including compiling papers for committees of London Borough leaders;
  • Carrying out research into local authority policy across an extremely wide range of services.

Particular strengths of mine include:

  • Extensive knowledge of key issues of strategic finance;
  • A practitioner’s knowledge of policy development processes at the national level;
  • Strong understanding of the regulatory framework of local government finance;
  • Extensive memory bank and records of case studies and analysis;
  • Skill in advancing appropriate innovative suggestions;
  • An instinct for engagement, inclusivity and good governance, especially in relation to service users and local communities;
  • Deep understanding of the linkages between policy areas;
  • Honed skills in articulating a narrative in a clear, precise and thought-provoking style;
  • Skilled in providing critiques of verbal arguments and documents, on political, technical and typographic levels.
  • An extensive network of other consultants and organisations he can draw on for specific or technical information, advice or support

I hold a doctorate in mathematical physics. Among other things, I have also provided content for a social enterprise website on recycling, run an awareness-raising campaign on community rights and provided secretarial support for a tenant management organisation.