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What Works: Evidence to date

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The team at the What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth have been churning through large numbers of studies (over 3000 to date), pulling out and focusing on those which provide the most rigorous evidence of policy impact.

We have finished three policy areas – Employment TrainingBusiness Advice and Sports and Culture.

Detailed findings are on the links above, but examples include:

  • Any wage and income effects due to hosting major sporting or cultural events are usually small and very localised
  • Business advice programmes show consistently better results for productivity and output than they do for employment
  • Shorter employment training programmes are more effective for less formal training activity
  • Longer programmes generate employment gains when the content is skill-intensive

We are confident that this information can help LEPs target their limited budgets and resources on those programmes which have the best track record of producing results.

That said, we have been disappointed – if not surprised – by the lack of rigorous evidence available in the field of local economic growth. For all of the time and money spent on growth-focussed policies, there is little analysis to show whether a particular approach was successful in meeting its stated objectives.

As we move into our second year of work we will be devising strategies to fill the gaps in the evidence base. We hope LEPs and local authorities will work with us to devise demonstration projects which are designed to deliver policy results and provide evidence of whether they have worked (and why). We will also be producing guidelines which policymakers can use to build assessment into programmes from the beginning, at minimal cost.

Workshops are currently being scheduled around the country for those who are interested in learning more about how evidence can be collected and used to prove what works.

Please get in touch if we can be of help.