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Strengthening our support for evaluation

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What Works Growth offers advice and support to policymakers wanting to evaluate their local economic growth policies. Providing this advice helps ensure evaluations are high quality and supports policymakers to develop their evaluation skills, knowledge and capacity. Over the longer term, it will also expand the evidence we have about ‘what works’.

We know from talking to our partners that they really value this independent and constructive support. However, the What Works Growth team is relatively small so up till now it’s been difficult to fully support every project.

Making use of the evaluation community

That has changed with the appointment of our Evaluation Panel which allows us to make greater use of the expertise in the wider evaluation community.

Following an open recruitment exercise, we were extremely pleased to appoint eight initial members to our Evaluation Panel

  • Professor Felicity Algate, Professor of Practice at Alliance Manchester Business School and Director of the Behavioural Insights Team
  • George Bramley, Senior Analyst at City-REDI, University of Birmingham
  • Professor Ross Brown, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Finance at the University of St Andrews
  • Peter Dickinson, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick
  • Teo Firpo, Senior Researcher at the Innovation Growth Lab, Nesta
  • Dr Helen Gray, Principal Research Economist at the Institute for Employment Studies
  • Andy Hunt, Director of Quod, a specialist planning and regeneration consultancy
  • Professor Geoff Pugh, Professor of Applied Economics at Staffordshire University.

All the panel members have expertise in undertaking robust impact evaluations and a track record of providing practical advice and support to decision-makers.

What can the Evaluation Panel help you with?

Given their extensive and varied expertise, the Evaluation Panel will be able to support a wide range of different types of project.

Five things you might consider getting advice on are: 

  • What method to use to evaluate your policy: The Panel has individuals experienced in designing randomised control trials, quasi-experimental and ‘similar on paper’ evaluations.
  • How to select your control group: Many Panel members are specialists in one or more local economic policy areas, and this expertise can be used to help you think through the observable and unobservable characteristics that you should be considering.
  • What data to collect or access for your evaluation: The Panel provides expertise on survey design for primary data collection and on making use of secondary administrative data.
  • Your commissioning processes: Several of our Panel members have worked for government departments and agencies or with local authorities and can provide practical advice on commissioning. This could include commenting on draft specifications or budgets or helping assess tender applications.
  • The quality of your evaluation findings: Panel members can act as a ‘critical friend’ to review reports and provide constructive criticism.

If you are a local or national policymaker that is evaluating a local economic growth and you would be interested in receiving support or advice from the Evaluation Panel, please get in touch on We are always pleased to hear from you.

Update: The Evaluation Panel has now closed. What Works Growth continues to offer support to policymakers that are interested in undertaking impact evaluation of local economic growth policies.  Please get in touch if you have an evaluation project that you would like to discuss with us.