Despite a shared desire to implement what works, we aren’t good at sharing our learning across the four UK jurisdictions. How can we create UK social policy links and increasingly learn from the practice of our neighbours?
There is a demand amongst users of social policy evidence for cross UK learning. Research by Carnegie UK and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation showed a gap in evidence exchange for social policy in terms of learning between the four UK jurisdictions. Twice as many of the research’s respondents expressed a desire to learn across the UK as said they already had knowledge of the social policy environment and evidence outside of their jurisdiction.
In 2014/15, to develop the concept of evidence exchange across the UK, the Alliance for Useful Evidence, working with Carnegie UK Trust, and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, implemented a test project called Evidence Exchange.
The Evidence Exchange Project
Evidence Exchange sought to work with practitioners and policy-makers across the sectors (third, statutory and private) to share evidence across selected social policy themes and to build people’s confidence to use evidence. During 2015, we worked with practitioners and existing UK-wide networks and national (Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales) networks to share evidence around two themes:
- Reducing the misuse of alcohol.
Our activities included events across the UK, blogs, podcasts, publications, webinars and a round-table with the Institute for Government on the opportunities for evidence exchange in policy making between the governments in the UK.
The project finished at the end of 2015, but the Alliance keeps a UK focus with staff based in the jurisdictions and a determination to support the use of evidence across jurisdictions. The Alliance team is based in London, Cardiff, Dunfermline and Belfast; Jonathan Breckon (Head of the Alliance), Helen Mthiyane (Coordinator), Pippa Coutts (Manager, Scotland), Peter O’Neill (Manager, Northern Ireland) and Helen Cunningham (Manager, Wales). If you want to keep up-to-date with our cross UK focus, or have any questions, suggestions or comments, then we’d love to hear from you; please email us on Alliance.4UsefulEvidence@nesta.org.uk.
Devolution as a Policy Laboratory
We were so impressed by the discussion at the roundtable held with the Institute for Government in October 2015, focussing on the good practice and barriers to evidence exchange between governments, that, in partnership with Carnegie UK Trust, we published a report: Devolution as a Policy Laboratory. We are working with the Institute for Government to take forward some of the recommendations for enabling evidence exchange and developing a conducive environment for cross UK policy exchange.