Abstracts: April 24th, 2013

Evidence centres are being set up to provide  rigorous, high quality, independently assessed research to support decision making at every level of public services. The Centres will  cover areas with public spending of over £200 billion.

The centres, independent of Government, will collate published evidence on the effectiveness of interventions, assess these using a common ‘currency’, publish clear synthesis reports and share findings in an accessible way with practitioners and commissioners and policy makers. The What Works centres will also highlight where it is possible to further the evidence base.

The UK already produces some of the world’s best research and these centres will help to harness this, and the best international research, into our existing evidence generation and decision making processes. Our partnership with the Economic and Social Research Council

The network of centres will include the two existing centres of excellence,  the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the Educational Endowment Foundation. In addition there will be four new independent institutions responsible for gathering, assessing and sharing the most robust evidence to inform policy and service delivery in tackling crime, promoting active and independent ageing, effective early intervention, and fostering local economic growth.

This initiative will build upon existing evidence-based policy making. These independent specialist centres will produce and disseminate research to local decision makers, supporting them in investing in services that deliver the best outcomes for citizens and value for money for taxpayers. The centres will also feed insights into the heart of government to inform national decision-making. It is the first time a government anywhere has set up such a model at a national level.

Extending evidence-led policy making in this way was a key action in the Civil Service Reform Plan, launched last June, and the Open Public Services White Paper of July 2011.

Since these publications, government departments have worked with partners including the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Big Lottery Fund to develop a model that will pull together world-leading research to answer the most pressing issues facing public services. The network will be part-funded by the government with significant contributions from ESRC. The Big Lottery Fund is the sponsor and principle funder of the centre for ageing better.

Evidence Centres can be downloaded here.