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All About the Joint Strategic (Needs) Assessment

Added: 15/07/2021

Third Sector Leeds

I had the pleasure of attending an event, hosted by Forum Central and Leeds City Council the other day looking at plans for Leeds’ Joint Strategic Assessment (JSA), formerly known as the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment. I have to admit that I wasn’t really familiar with what the JSA is, so I learnt a lot at the event. Because I found the meeting so helpful, I thought it’d be good to share some of the key points I took away.

What is a JSNA?

Every 3 years the Council and Health system are required by law to produce a formal document that sets out a statistical picture of the health of the city. It shows things like;

  • how the population is changing
  • the scale and distribution of health inequalities
  • differences in health outcomes in different places
  • differences in health outcomes for different groups of people.

Leeds is rightly proud that it takes a broad view of the health and wellbeing of its citizens. It recognises that having an impact on health inequalities requires action around the ‘broader determinants of health’ – things like access to stable, well paid employment or the quality of housing.

In order to get a picture of how these complex issues interlink, Leeds takes a wider view pulling together information about a whole range of different factors that affect people’s lives.  The resulting Joint Strategic Assessment is a ‘state of the city’ report that helps readers to understand where we’ve got to in fighting inequality.

How is the JSA used?

The JSA is used by the policy makers as the starting point for understanding what action needs to be taken to address the challenges we face in reducing health inequalities. While it doesn’t say what the city will do it does, over time, inform decisions about where resources will be allocated.

The JSA is also important for making the case for investment. Public sector partners turn to the information in the JSA when they are talking to central government about funding and many third sector organisations use it as part of the evidence base for their funding bids.

What has changed since the last JSA?

The JSA is still being developed but a lot of the statistical analysis has been done. The key learning that I took from the presentation at the event was that Covid 19 has ‘turbo charged’ the impact of inequality on some communities in our city. This wasn’t really a surprise, but I think its important that there’s a document that captures and records the Covid impact and helps us to focus on the actions we need to take.

What will be different about this JSA?

This is one for the medium-term, but there’s an aspiration to build on the statistics in the JSA. Hopefully, over time, a body of research will be developed  – perhaps on website – that also captures the strengths and distinctive identities of the places and people of Leeds.

If that comes about, its something I believe the third sector can really help with and would be a fantastic resource for our city.


If you want to discuss this blog, want us to profile your organisation or want to know more about the work of Third Sector Leeds or Voluntary Action Leeds, please contact

Our colleagues at Forum Central have shared the presentations from the event with us. The presentation from Simon Foy (Head of Intelligence and Policy, Leeds City Council) includes some of the key data that will appear in the JSA

Forum Central will publish a report from the event and a recording of the workshop. To receive a copy of the report when it is ready or if you have any further queries about Forum Central’s work please contact

Written by

Rich Warrington, Third Sector Leeds

Third Sector Leeds

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