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PLACEMENT OPPORTUNITY: Research assistant or Doctoral student to work with the new Bristol Living Rent Commission

29 June 2022

This is an exciting opportunity for a post-doc or PhD student to work alongside the Bristol One City team, gathering evidence and compiling a report summarising the work of the new Bristol Living Rent Commission.

Deadline for applications: Wednesday 6th July 2022

Please send a CV and cover letter, outlining your skills and suitability for the role, including why you are interested, to:

Urban housing affordability is a global issue and one that is becoming more acute. In England, where housing assets act as a key vehicle for small-scale investment, the financial return to landlords from residential property is perceived to have broader economic and welfare significance. This means that policy to moderate rents is politically a particularly challenging task. At urban scale, lack of housing affordability has broad ramifications. Not only does it reduce non-housing expenditures and quality of life for tenants, but also has an impact on labour market functioning, the recruitment and retention of talent, and investment attractiveness.

Policymakers in Bristol have recognised these challenges and have established a One City Bristol Living Rent Commission to investigate the acute issues currently being faced, to hear testimony from other places and individuals with lived experience, and agree a report containing recommendations that will inform the Council’s Government engagement plans with regard to rent stabilisation options. The Commission will run from July to September 2022 and will hold 3-4 online inquiry sessions, bringing together a number of key city partners and representative groups. The Co-Chairs are seeking a researcher to support this work; see specific details below.


  1. A qualitative researcher is required, to record the qualitative evidence from the evidence sessions with stakeholders; to combine that with quantitative data analysis (an analysis of the current and recent trajectory of the Bristol housing market) being provided by Dr Levi Wolf, School of Geographical Sciences. And to combine the quantitatively-informed analysis of the likely impacts of options for affordability policies with contextual and qualitative data to produce a summary report with supervision from Prof. Alex Marsh.
  2. The role requires the researcher to retain a strategic view of all the evidence being gathered, and with supervision, to be the main author of a report summarising the situation in Bristol and the Commission’s recommendations for action. 
  3. The researcher will need to liaise with the two co-chairs, other researchers, council officers providing policy advice, and the Commission Board.

The successful candidate will be supervised by Prof. Alex Marsh, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, and work closely with Cllr Tom Renhard, Co-chair of the Commission and Cabinet Member for Housing Delivery and Homes, Bristol City Council, with support from the Mayor’s Office/One City team.


This is a funded placement for a post-doctoral researcher or a doctoral student at an advanced PhD level i.e. the candidate must have undertaken a minimum of two years full-time PhD study (or equivalent part-time).

The candidate must be available to attend meetings and evidence sessions on specific, pre-planned dates (please see details below, ‘About the placement’).

Skills and experience

  • Confidence in delivering literature reviews and summarising research.
  • Experience in synthesizing diverse information and research results into reports suitable for non-specialist and policy audiences.
  • Comfortable working with a range of quantitative and qualitative data.
  • A track record of conducting and writing up qualitative research.
  • The role is suitable for a generalist researcher (e.g. methods/synthesis).
  • Ability to manage projects effectively and deliver to tight timescales
  • Ability to work independently and share their developing ideas confidently
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and be credible with a mix of city stakeholders
  • Relevant expertise and experience of working on housing issues is desirable but not essential.

The researcher will need to be sensitive to the politics around this area of work, both at a national and a local level.

The project is likely to offer the opportunity to generate ideas for future projects. The ideal candidate will be reflective and self-motivated, and may be interested in taking advantage of this role as an opportunity for career development.

About the placement

The placement is expected to be up to 12 weeks at 1 FTE; part-time and job-share arrangements will be considered. The work will take place between mid-July and mid-October; with start date as soon as possible. Key meetings and evidence sessions have already been set up, and the candidate must be available to attend on the following dates/times:  

Commissioners initial meeting

 Friday 15th July, 9am -11am

Planning meeting with co-chairs and BCC officers

Monday 25th July 1-2pm

Commission evidence session 1

 Tuesday 26th July, 9am-11am

Planning meeting with co-chairs and BCC officers

Monday 8th Aug

Commission evidence session 2

 Tuesday 9th August, 11am- 1pm

Commission evidence session 3

 Thursday 18th August, 6pm-8pm

Planning meeting with co-chairs and BCC officers

Monday 22nd August, 1pm-2pm

Planning meeting with co-chairs and BCC officers

Monday 5th Sept, 1pm-2pm

Commission evidence session 4

Thursday 8th Sept, 9am-11am

Planning meeting with co-chairs and BCC officers

Monday 19th September, 1-2pm

Commission meeting

 Thursday 22nd Sept, 9am-11am

All meetings and evidence sessions will be conducted online, using MS Teams.

This placement is likely to be mostly remote working, with opportunity for office support from Bristol City Council.


Remuneration will be on an hourly paid basis, at the rate of £18.85 an hour.


Please send a CV and cover letter, outlining your skills and suitability for the role, including why you are interested, to:

Deadline: midnight, Wednesday 6th July 2022.

For further information about the role, please email Prof Alex Marsh:

Further information

Benefits to the researcher

The successful appointee will be supported by an officer from the One City team who will provide administrative and logistical support for the inquiry sessions. The appointee will gain a thorough understanding of the challenges facing the city’s landlords and renters, the national policy context, and the council’s priorities.

This placement will be a great learning experience to take into future roles. It will result in a rich network for co-design and dissemination of research, and a greater understanding of how research evidence can be impactful. It will provide potential for papers co-authored with Prof Alex Marsh and future research proposals, to be developed once the Commission has concluded.

Can the postholder take forward the work beyond the placement, and if so, how?

This placement is very much a task-and-finish discrete piece of work, with a clear output in the form of a report containing a summary of issues, and recommendations for the Mayor and council.

The Commission itself will be time-limited, but if the postholder sees an opportunity for further research relating to the final recommendations within the report, and if the Council plans to take forward certain actions, they could be encouraged to pursue a relevant grant application.

Further information about the Living Rent Commission

The goals and objectives of the Commission will be to:  

  • Explore how to improve affordability of the Bristol Private Rented Sector (PRS) market; 
  • Understand what introducing rent stabilisation would do the PRS market in the city, including potential impact on housing quality and maintenance and making recommendations which rent controls would be deliverable and have best impact 
  • Investigate other powers that would improve experience of renting in Bristol, e.g. a Landlords’ database
  • Explore how tenants could be empowered (through information, transparency, complaints c.f. social housing tenants’ rights) to exercise their rights in order to improve affordability and quality  
  • Further information

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