What Works Network

The What Works Network uses evidence to improve the design and delivery of public services.


The What Works Network aims to improve the way government and other public sector organisations create, share and use high-quality evidence in decision-making. It supports more effective and efficient services across the public sector at national and local levels.

Read the What Works Network Strategy, published in November 2023. See an earlier report, the What Works Network: Five Years On, published in January 2018.

What Works is based on the principle that good decision-making should be informed by the best available evidence. If evidence is not available, decision-makers should use high-quality methods to find out what works.

The What Works Network

The network is made up of 9 independent What Works Centres and 3 affiliate members. Together, these centres cover policy areas which account for more than £250 billion of public spending. What Works Centres are different from standard research institutions. Each centre is committed to increasing both the supply of and demand for evidence in their policy area, and their output is tailored to the needs of decision-makers.

The centres help to ensure that robust evidence shapes decision-making at every level, by

  • collating existing evidence on the effectiveness of programmes and practices
  • producing high-quality synthesis reports and systematic reviews in areas where they do not currently exist
  • assessing the effectiveness of policies and practices against an agreed set of outcomes
  • filling gaps in the evidence base by commissioning new trials and evaluations
  • sharing findings in an accessible way
  • supporting practitioners, commissioners and policymakers to use these findings to inform their decisions

The current What Works Centres are:

What Works Centre Policy area
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Health and social care
Education Endowment Foundation Educational achievement
College of Policing What Works Centre for Crime Reduction Crime reduction
Foundations Children and Families
What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth (hosted by LSE, Arup, Centre for Cities) Local economic growth
Centre for Ageing Better Improving quality of life for older people
Centre for Homelessness Impact Homelessness
Youth Futures Foundation Youth employment
Wales Centre for Public Policy  
Affiliate: Youth Endowment Fund Youth offending
Affiliate: Centre for Transforming Access and Student Outcomes in Higher Education Higher Education
Affiliate: The Money and Pensions Service Financial wellbeing

The Centres are funded by a combination of government and non-government sources including the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Dormant Assets Scheme, and the National Lottery Community Fund.

The Evaluation Task Force, as the secretariat, promotes and supports the independent What Works Network.

More information on What Works

Follow us on Twitter @whatworksuk or contact us at

Published 28 June 2013
Last updated 6 March 2024 + show all updates
  1. We updated information on the page.

  2. Updated the Wales Centre for Public Policy from associate to full WWC status

  3. The What Works Network Strategy was published in November 2023.

  4. The Early Intervention Foundation and What Works for Children’s Social Care have merged to become Foundations.

  5. Included information on the merger of the Early Intervention Foundation and What Works for Children's Social Care.

  6. On 31 October 2022, Prof David Halpern reached the 10-year limit of public appointment as the What Works National Adviser.

  7. Youth Futures Foundation has now been promoted from an affiliate member to a What Works Centre. The Money and Pension Service is now an affiliate member. The What Works Team has now been dissolved; the Evaluation Task Force is now the secretariat of the What Works Network.

  8. Removed an associate member

  9. Added section on 'What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care'.

  10. Have updated information on the Early Intervention Foundation and Centre for Better Ageing.

  11. Latest report details added.

  12. Updated a link.

  13. Updated links

  14. Updated information about the centres and added links to new guidance publications.

  15. Added link to new report: 'What Works? Evidence for decision makers'.

  16. Information on the new What Works Centre for Wellbeing added.

  17. Updated to include latest information on the What Works centres.

  18. Updated with more information about What Works centres for economic growth and crime reduction

  19. First published.