Ruth PuttickComment

A good day for evidence

Ruth PuttickComment

Last week we argued for a NICE for social policy to be developed. Today Government announces plans to open up policy from outside Whitehall to help find “what works”, involving exploring the creation of new evidence centres.

This afternoon saw the publication of the Civil Service Reform White Paper. Within this is a commitment from Government to develop institutions that can test and trial approaches and assess what works in major social policy areas. It is suggested that these new institutions would perform an advisory role similar to NICE for the NHS and the Early Intervention Foundation for early years. These new institutions would be created in other areas, helping ensure commissioners in central or local government do not waste time and money on programmes that are unlikely to be effective.

We greatly welcome this development. 

Over the past couple of years Nesta has hosted events to look at the use of evidence and to explore the infrastructural changes needed. (Click the button on the right to download a PDF about these events.)

Our work has helped to inform the Open Public Services White Paper which contained a commitment to explore the equivalent of a NICE for social policy.  We have also created the Alliance for Useful Evidence with ESRC and the Big Lottery Fund to create a network of over 400 organisations with a commitment to evidence. 

Just last week Geoff Mulgan, CEO at Nesta, wrote a blog post arguing for new ways of working to be explored, emphasising how the need for more and better evidence is 'moving from the margins to the mainstream'. We also published a paper outlining what a new centre- or a 'NICE for social policy' could look like.

This has stimulated much debate online. One commentator called us 'holy fools' for trying to improve the use of evidence in decision making. Whilst another blog said that it should and could be done, but that one single institution couldn't perform this role. There was also interest on Twitter, with many calls to include practitioners and service users in the debate.

Over the summer we will be working with the ESRC, Cabinet Office, and a number of other partners, to begin to explore what new evidence centres could look like and the role they could perform.  We would greatly value your input and thoughts.

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