By Daniel Hunter
The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is delighted to announce the funding of the new independent What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth.
The centre will be based at the London School of Economics (LSE) and will be directed by Professor Henry Overman, the current director of the Spatial Economics Research Centre at LSE.
The centre is being funded by the ESRC, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).
The Centre, which will be a collaboration between LSE, the Centre for Cities and Arup, will gather, evaluate and disseminate evidence across a wide spectrum of interventions that promote local economic growth - such as employment, skills, regeneration and transport initiatives.
It's one of the four new centres to be funded as part of the wider What Works Network, a new initiative which aims to improve the use of high quality evidence in government decision making about public services.
The four new centres will join two existing centres of excellence - the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the Educational Endowment Foundation (EEF) to form the network.
The world leading network of centres will provide robust, comprehensive evidence to guide decision making on tackling crime, promoting active and independent ageing, effective early intervention and fostering local economic growth.
The centres will provide information to allow local decision makers to deliver public services in a way which provides 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.
ESRC Chief Executive Paul Boyle said: "We are delighted to be part of a national, co-ordinated initiative that seeks to strengthen the use of evidence for policy and practice, not only across Whitehall but also at the local and community levels. Engaging with end users has a critical role to play in policy development and we believe this new initiative will help to demonstrate the real impact that social science research can have on the lives of ordinary people."
Professor Henry Overman, director of the new What Works Centre for Local Growth, said: "The three partners - the London School of Economics, Centre for Cities and Arup - are looking forward to working together to deliver an ambitious and exciting programme of work that will add significantly to the pool of evidence and policy expertise that policy makers can draw upon to deliver economic growth at the local level. It is not news that the Government faces increasing economic pressures, at both national and local levels.
"If we are to pursue policies that are effective, we must not only ensure that they are built on robust and solid evidence but that they are effectively reviewed and that the findings are made accessible to policy makers. The What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth offers a unique opportunity to shine a light on how effective policy making at the local level can make a real difference to the economic outlook of places, and will provide central and local Government with a deeper understanding as to which approaches to stimulating local economic growth can have the biggest impact."
The What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth will officially open on 1 September 2013 and will run for 36 months. The primary customers for the outputs of the centre will be decision makers and practitioners working in, and with, local economic partnerships, cities and local authorities, who are responsible for the generation and use of evidence.
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