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Here you can see answers to our most frequently asked questions.

You can also email us your questions at

1) What does What Works Growth do?

We help to make local growth policy more cost-effective by:

  • Improving the use of evidence in policy; 
  • Enabling more and better impact evaluation; and
  • Summarising what works using robust evidence.

In practice, this involves:

  • Working with and convening events and training for local and combined authorities, LEPs, and central government to help them make better use of evidence in designing and delivering policy.
  • Supporting and carrying out evaluations of local growth interventions, to build the UK evidence base.
  • Reviewing the evidence on local economic growth policies and presenting the findings in accessible ways.

2) Who funds What Works Growth?

We are funded by:

We also work closely with the Cabinet Office, which coordinates the What Works Network of similar centres addressing different policy areas.

3) Is What Works Growth a government body?

No. We are an independent organisation hosted by the London School of Economics and Centre for Cities.
Our contract is with the ESRC.

4) How does What Works Growth maintain its independence when it is funded by the Government?

Maintaining the impartiality and independence of What Works Growth is essential to the credibility of the work we produce. Our host organisations,  London School of Economics and Centre for Cities, value their status as non-partisan organisations.

5) Who are What Works Growth’s main stakeholders and how can they engage with the centre’s work?

Our work is designed to support anyone involved in making policy decisions related to economic growth, especially local and combined authorities, LEPs, and central government. We present our resources and findings at training and events as well as through the latest section on our website. We can also offer bespoke support and advice in some cases.

6) Do you look at other countries, or just the UK?

We use evidence from all OECD countries, not just the UK, because we want to draw on the broadest and best evidence base. We also recognise the importance of context: our training, and many of our resources, are designed to help decision makers apply the evidence in their own context.

7) What counts as ‘good’ evidence?

Our evidence reviews draw on quantitative evidence from impact evaluations. Impact evaluations assess whether a given intervention – such as a business support scheme – has made a difference to a given outcome – such as business survival.

In each review we shortlist the most relevant and methodologically robust evidence.
We do this using the Maryland Scientific Methods Scale to rank them in terms of robustness.
You can find out more about how we score the evidence here, and more on how to use the reviews more generally here.

For some of our resources, such as our evidence briefings, we draw on a wider range of evidence, including, for example, data trends and economic theory. Unlike impact evaluations, these forms of evidence do not tell us about whether an intervention has been effective in the past. However, they can be useful additional tools for making decisions about local growth policy. When our resources draw on a wider range of evidence this is always stated transparently in the document.

8) Are you going to look at ‘what works where’, or just ‘what works’? Isn’t local context really important?

Local context is always important. Our evidence reviews allow local decision takers to explore what has worked best across the board, and then apply this learning to their specific needs and economic conditions.

9) I’ve got this great programme, can I tell you about it?

Yes, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us and we will put you in touch with the most relevant colleague.