Economic and Social Research Council
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£6 million centre to help tackle major policy challenges

Cardiff University is to host a new £6 million research centre which will help to ensure that governments and public services have access to the best available evidence to help them tackle the major policy challenges of our day.

The Wales Centre for Public Policy has been funded for five years by Welsh Government and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and will play a key role in encouraging evidence-based policymaking and professional practice.

Working with experts from universities across the UK and internationally, the Centre will undertake two distinct but linked programmes of work for Welsh Ministers and public services to address key policy issues including Brexit, supporting growth and prosperity, closing the education attainment gap, and the future funding of the health service and social care.

The Centre will build on the success of the Public Policy Institute for Wales and combine this with a broader approach that will involve working with public services and as part of the UK-wide What Works initiative, a network of seven centres which uses evidence to make better decisions that can improve public services.

First Minister for Wales, Carwyn Jones, said: "I look forward to this new team of academics and researchers providing fresh thinking and new ideas on how best to improve Wales' public services. Well-informed, independent advice and evidence is crucial to good policy making. I am confident the Wales Centre for Public Policy will allow us to tap into the very best ideas to help us reform and improve our public services and, most importantly, deliver for the people of Wales."

Professor Colin Riordan, Cardiff University's Vice-Chancellor, said: "We are delighted that Cardiff will lead such an important research centre designed not only to serve the distinct policy needs of Wales, but also to inform policy-making across the UK. This major award is testimony to the excellence of the University’s social science research and underlines our commitment to working with policy makers and public services to help to tackle the major challenges we face as a society."

ESRC Chief Executive Professor Jane Elliott, said: "The ESRC is very excited about this new venture which will enable us to build upon our already strong relationship with the Welsh Government and ensure that social science research continues to provide evidence and insight on societal issues to inform policy making and professional practice across the whole of the UK."

The new Centre will be led by Professor Steve Martin, the current Director of the Public Policy Institute for Wales. Steve said: "The funding of the new Centre confirms the importance which Welsh Ministers and the ESRC place on ensuring that policy decisions are informed by high quality evidence. We welcome this opportunity to help bridge the gap between research and practice by working with government, public services and academia."

Further information

  • Natalie Ross, What Works Centre for Public Policy / Public Policy Institute for Wales
    Telephone: 029 2087 5345 
  • Lowri Jones, Cardiff University
    Telephone: 029 2087 0995

Notes for editors

  1. The Wales Centre for Public Policy is a major new initiative which is being core funded through an award of £6 million funding from the Welsh Government and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), together a £1.75 million investment by Cardiff University. The new Centre will build on the success of the Public Policy Institute for Wales (PPIW) by continuing to deliver authoritative independent analysis and advice to Welsh Government Ministers. In addition it will provide high-quality evidence, across a wide range of current public policy issues, to help improve public services. It will also continue to play a significant role as a member of the UK’s What Work Network. The Centre will open in October 2017 and create a range of new research and support posts. 
  2. The Public Policy Institute for Wales (PPIW) was established in October 2013. It is independent of government and works with public policy experts from across the UK and beyond to provide Welsh Government Ministers with independent evidence and analysis. It works directly with Ministers, helping to identify and meet their evidence needs, and provides a link between What Works Centres and policy makers in Wales. The Institute has been leading a major programme of research on What Works in Tackling Poverty. Follow on Twitter @ppifw
  3. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest funder of research on the social and economic questions facing us today. It supports the development and training of the UK's future social scientists and also funds major studies that provide the infrastructure for research. ESRC-funded research informs policymakers and practitioners and helps make businesses, voluntary bodies and other organisations more effective. The ESRC also works collaboratively with six other UK research councils and Innovate UK to fund cross-disciplinary research and innovation addressing major societal challenges. The ESRC is an independent organisation, established by Royal Charter in 1965, and funded mainly by the Government.
  4. Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework ranked the University 5th in the UK for research excellence. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans. Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise encompasses: the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences; and the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering, along with a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff’s flagship Research Institutes are offering radical new approaches to pressing global problems.
  5. The What Works Network is made up of seven independent What Works Centres and two affiliate members, of which the Public Policy Institute for Wales is currently one. Together these centres cover policy areas which receive public spending of more than £200 billion. What Works Centres are different from standard research centres. They enable policymakers, commissioners and practitioners to make decisions based upon strong evidence of what works and to provide cost-efficient, useful services.


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