Government to try 'crowd sourcing' key policies to see 'What Works'

Evidence-based guidelines will examine which initiaties work in bid to save £2bn a year

It is, one might think, what a good Government would be doing anyway.

But after years of policy disasters and U-turns for ministers of all parties, the Coalition is to establish the first network of bodies to examine which government initiatives actually work – and which do not.

Based on the model of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), which provides evidence-based guidelines on all aspect of healthcare to the NHS, the new institutions will extend the concept to four other areas of policy.

Initially these will be promoting local economic growth, crime reduction, early intervention in childhood and keeping the elderly healthy for longer. They will be linked up into a network along with Nice and the Educational Endowment Foundation, which assesses education policy. Together the "What Works" network will examine policy areas amounting to £200bn of government spending.

If successful, further centres looking at other areas of government spending – including welfare – could be created. The centres, which will be independent of Government, will collate published evidence on the effectiveness of policies – both in this country and abroad – and carry out their own research. Unlike civil service policy advice to ministers the What Works centres will publish all their findings and recommendations as well as recommend further research work that needs to be done. Ministers believe that together the centres could save up to £2bn worth of ineffectual spending every year. The scheme is due to be launched today by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, and Policy Minister Oliver Letwin. Writing ahead of the launch, Mr Alexander said Nice pioneered the use of solid evidence in making decisions – and its success could be replicated elsewhere.

"In deciding whether a treatment should be made available, Nice is required to consider whether it delivers good value for money and helps the NHS meet its goals for delivering high quality care," he said.

"For patients, it means that when their doctor prescribes them a drug or a treatment, they know that the decision has been informed by the best possible evidence.

"However, we need to go much further by expanding the amount of evidence we collect and use to make sure that public services can draw upon a wide-ranging evidence base.

"At a time when the public finances are stretched and more savings will be required across government, it is more important than ever that public money is invested smartly on services that deliver the best results and real value for money for the taxpayer."

Mr Letwin added: "The What Works network will support commissioners and decision-makers at every level of Government – from head teachers and local police chiefs, to ministers and civil servants. A decade from now, we'll wonder how we ever did without it."

The move is a component of the Civil Service Reform plan unveiled by the Coalition last June and the Open Public Services White Paper of July 2011.

Funding for the network, which is expected to cost around £4m, will be partly from the Government with contributions from the Economic and Social Research Council. The Big Lottery Fund, which distributes National Lottery good-cause money, is the sponsor and principal funder of the centre for ageing better.

Four to tackle: targeted policy areas

Crime: In 2004 the Home Office modelled the impact of proposed criminal justice interventions on crime levels and concluded it would result in 15 per cent fewer crimes. But the government later said 80 per cent of the fall was due to economic, not criminal justice, factors.

Growing old: A big burden to the NHS is the cost of elderly people in hospital unnecessarily. Spending money to prevent things like falls would be cost effective, but right now there is no way to know which interventions are effective.

Local economic growth: Labour set up Regional Development Agencies to promote economic growth but they never fulfilled their potential and were scrapped.

Early years intervention: Labour introduced Sure Start centres, but critics claimed they were monopolised by the middle classes. The new body will identify children at risk.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map