We hosted a roundtable event entitled ‘Lessons from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for social policy and practice - a critical assessment’.

This invite-only roundtable brought together NICE, Nesta, ESRC, BIG and other bodies interested in evidence-based policymaking to critically assess the ‘NICE model’ and its applicability to policymaking in non-health areas. A joint paper will be written later this year, which will draw on discussions at the roundtable.


In his first media interview as Cabinet Secretary, Jeremy Heywood mooted the idea of setting up a ‘NICE-type’ body in social policy. Although details were lacking the proposal received widespread interest.

Nine months later, Coalition Government ministers Oliver Letwin and Danny Alexander launched four new ‘What Works’ centres in social (and local economic) policy at Nesta. NICE has reportedly been an inspiration for these centres and is formally part of the ‘What Works’ network.

New institutions are planned, in areas such as wellbeing policy. Yet, arguably there is insufficient understanding surrounding the workings of the ‘NICE model’ and its potential application in domains beyond health and social care. Even the champions of NICE recognise in the model features that might limit its applicability in social policy fields.

Provocation paper

Following the roundtable, the Alliance, NICE and Nesta researchers intend to write a joint provocation paper on the subject of the 'NICE model' and a critical assessment of its applicability to evidence-based policymaking in non-health areas. The provocation will draw on case studies from NICE’s experience and our understanding of evidence-based policymaking challenges in non-health areas.

The provocation paper will also look at the use of experimental methods in evidence-based policymaking, drawing on previous work done by the researchers. The experience of NICE’s international arm, NICE International model, will be used to shed light on some of the particular challenges that arise for evidence-based policymaking in developing countries. The insights from the report will be as readable and jargon-free as possible, aiming at an audience outside the UK health sector.

Gill Edelman, Interim Director at the Centre for Ageing Better provided the group with a copy of the Centre for Ageing Better’s (CfAB) recent consultation paper and invited comments.

If you are interested in receiving more information, please contact us at: Alliance.4UsefulEvidence@nesta.org.uk

Tuesday 6th of May 2014
12:00pm - 2:00pm

Nesta, 1 Plough Place, London, EC4A 1DE

Speakers include

  • Phil Sooben, Deputy CEO, ESRC
  • Professor David Haslam, Chair of NICE
  • Carole Willis, Chief Executive, NfER and former Chief Scientist at DfE
  • Francis Ruiz, Associate Director for NICE International
  • Danielle Mason, Head of What Works Team and Head of Profession for Social Research in Cabinet Office & HMT