The Wales Centre for Public Policy is helping to inform and shape policy decisions by presenting research evidence directly to government ministers, producing over 120 studies in the last five years – supporting effective policymaking and benefiting public services across Wales.

Impacts

  • The Wales Centre for Public Policy (WCPP) has developed a demand-led approach that enables ministers and senior officials to access independent high-quality research and expertise in a timely way – directly informing a range of policies.
  • In the last five years, more than 120 studies involving over 200 experts have been undertaken to meet the need for evidence, spanning the range of policies that the Welsh Government is responsible for – including education, economy, health and social care, agriculture, environment, local government reform and a host of other topics.
  • Examples where these studies have influenced policy include:
    • Free childcare: Ministers were considering funding universal child care for all 3- to 4-year-olds to enable more women to enter paid work and to reduce household poverty.  But analysis by the WCPP showed it would have no significant impact on household incomes or maternal employment. Ministers decided instead to target parents working 16+ hours per week, resulting in a saving of £80 million annually.
    • Health service: The Ministers for Finance and Health accepted the WCPP's recommendation that the Welsh Government fund an ‘Innovate to Save’ programme – creating an annual £5 million programme to incentivise local government and health boards to develop new cost-effective service delivery models.
    • Waste recycling: A study of approaches to increase waste recycling directly informed the design and implementation of trials in South East Wales, targeting information to people who have just moved to a new residence.

"The work of the Wales Centre for Public Policy greatly strengthens our policy-making in Wales. It gives us high-quality independent evidence to challenge current assumptions and improve our decisions." (Rt Hon Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales)

About the research

Much of the research that social scientists produce is very relevant to tackling pressing societal challenges, but often it does not reach policymakers. Governments are frequently unaware of research that could be useful to them, and many academics are unsure how to make contact with ministers and civil servants.

The Wales Centre for Public Policy, led by Professor Steve Martin, has gained high-level access to present evidence directly to ministers. The research team does this by planning its work programme in consultation with ministers and senior officials to ensure that evidence is available when it is most needed for policy decisions. Working in partnership with leading researchers and policy experts from the UK and internationally, they seek out existing evidence, identifying the most robust and relevant work, and bringing it together in an easily accessible format for policymakers.

Drawing on existing expertise harnesses the value of the UK’s investment in research and enables the swift turnaround of robust and reliable evidence. At the end of each project ministers are provided with written briefings supported by face-to-face meetings with experts, to discuss findings and the policy implications.

"We safeguard the rigour of our research through peer review by experts and oversight by an independent advisory group. We publish reports within six weeks of presenting them to ministers so that the evidence is available to everyone. This combines a 'no surprises' approach for ministers with assurance for researchers that their work will not be subjected to undue political influence," explains Professor Martin.

By encouraging better informed policy and delivery WCPP's work is having a positive impact on public service users across a range of policy areas. Over the last year the centre has extended this approach to local authorities and other public services, ensuring easy access to social science expertise and evidence.