About Us

What does the What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth do?

Who we are

The What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth was set up in October 2013 as part of the What Works network to analyse which policies are most effective in supporting and increasing local economic growth. It is jointly run by the LSECentre for Cities, and Arup and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Transport (Read more about how we operate in the FAQ).

Reviewing and highlighting the evidence on what local economic policy works

The Centre's evidence reviews currently cover ten policy areas affecting local economic growth – from business support to employment training and innovation.

The evidence reviews analysed and sifted through thousands of existing policy evaluations to unearth the most useful for understanding what really works in the different policy areas. As well as highlighting what the evidence showed about impact, we have picked out a range of case studies which represent particularly useful evaluation techniques. These can be copied by practitioners as they plan their own policy evaluations.

However, the reviews also showed that a lot of the time there is little robust evidence that that clearly identifies how to improve policy effectiveness. That’s why we’re also supporting local practitioners to build the evidence base themselves by piloting and testing new approaches.

Building the evidence base

The Centre supports piloting and testing of local economic growth schemes as well as improving understanding of the existing evidence base across local and national government.

Being clear about the ways in which we can improve policy effectiveness is more important than ever as government is faced with slower growth and tighter budgets. Local decision makers are taking on new powers over economic development, and with this comes responsibility for proving that their policy interventions are impactful.

Our objectives by 2019:

  • Improve the quality of the UK evidence base by helping policy makers develop and evaluate local policy pilots
  • Demystify the evidence by running workshops and events on how to best use it to improve outcomes for local economies
  • Help support better evaluation by engaging local and national policymakers in collaborative projects with academics and policy experts
  • Provide a wide-ranging portfolio of evidence, case studies and guidance for better local economic growth policy evaluation. 

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