Economic and Social Research Council
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What Works Scotland to drive scale and pace of public service delivery and reform

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Scottish Government are pleased to announce that they have jointly awarded just under £3 million to the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, for a new What Works Scotland (WWS) initiative. The Centre is intended to help policymakers and practitioners in the public services in Scotland transform the way they work. It will be led by Professor Nicholas Watson, Chair of Disability Studies at the University of Glasgow and Professor James Mitchell, Professor of Public Policy at the University of Edinburgh.

Over the next three years WWS will work closely with Community Planning Partnerships and other stakeholders to find, create, evaluate and communicate the evidence of what works in delivering the Scottish model of public service delivery.

It aims to:

  • support service performance and improvement underpinned by data, evidence and the application of improvement methodologies
  • build on the strengths and assets of individuals and communities, rather than only focusing on perceived deficits
  • develop services which are shaped and co-produced by both service providers and the citizens and communities who receive and engage with those services.

John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth, said: "I have great hopes for What Works Scotland in deepening and scaling up the Scottish approach to public service delivery and reform. I believe that it will provide the strong strategic direction needed to translate reform evidence into practical reality, particularly in tackling intergenerational inequality. I look forward to seeing it work closely with Community Planning Partnerships to provide transferable evidence which will focus on ways of designing in a preventative approach, liberating the system from duplicated costs and creating the conditions to nurture community-led enterprises to improve outcomes in their local areas."

ESRC Chief Executive, Professor Paul Boyle, said "We are delighted to support the What Works Network and WWS will be a key addition that will help to shape the future of public policy reform and implementation in Scotland."

WWS will develop a close working relationship with the other What Works Centres in the rest of the UK and will utilise their research in its work as appropriate. It is anticipated that What Works Scotland will start work during the summer of 2014.

ESRC Press Office

Notes for editors

  1. What Works Scotland (WWS) will bring together a core team of academics who cover a wide range of topics including health, economics, inequality, employment and social care. They will be supplemented by a wider panel which includes those with expertise in urban renewal, criminal justice, asylum, migration and housing.
  2. The total budget for the WWS is £3,700,390.21. The ESRC and the Scottish Government have provided £2,960,312.17. The rest is from the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh.
  3. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funds research into the big social and economic questions facing us today. We also develop and train the UK's future social scientists. Our research informs public policies and helps make businesses, voluntary bodies and other organisations more effective. Most importantly, it makes a real difference to all our lives. The ESRC is an independent organisation, established by Royal Charter in 1965, and funded mainly by the Government.
  4. The What Works Network, launched last year by the Cabinet Office, consists of established and new institutions responsible for gathering, assessing and sharing the most robust evidence to inform policy and service delivery across the UK
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