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Oct 27, 2022 | by What Works Centre for Wellbeing

DLUHC calls for wellbeing research to support key policies

Collecting and sharing evidence on what works to improve the nation’s wellbeing is central to our role as a What Works Centre. 

Similarly, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), requires rigorous, robust, relevant and timely evidence to support policies, both internally and  across Government, that will achieve its vision and objectives. 

In today’s blog, we look at the DLUHC’s recently published Area of Research Interest (ARI) and how we and our networks can collaboratively support the department’s ongoing priorities.

To design and deliver effective policy that implements the Levelling Up white paper across the UK, rigorous, relevant and timely evidence is needed by decision makers at all levels of government. 

DLUHC has outlined its ongoing and latest priorities in its latest ARI. The document summarises some of the most important research questions facing the department over the coming years. 

These include a focus on wellbeing, specifically:

  • How does wellbeing matter in the context of levelling up? 
  • What are the most effective levers for government – central and local – to affect wellbeing? 
  • How does wellbeing interact with other place-based interventions such as housing and regeneration?

To deepen its understanding, the department is seeking input and insights:

  • Assessing the impacts and value of different policy interventions to understand what works for improving well-being, the best ways to measure changes in wellbeing, and how to attach a value to such interventions.
  • Maximising the impact of data and research, including improving the coherence of UK-wide data, and the potential for using ethnographic and qualitative techniques to support policy development so it is more user-centred.
  • Capturing learnings from recent events, such as the Covid pandemic, to understand how to better build resilience.

The Centre’s role

As a collaborative centre, we help to build the wellbeing evidence base by ensuring that policy makers have access to high quality research.

We do this by:

  • highlighting strategic needs in the field of wellbeing research;
  • partnering with organisations to accelerate the delivery of robust and relevant evidence to meet those needs;
  • making evidence more open, accessible and usable.

DLUHC has identified us as a key partner in addressing evidence gaps and providing robust wellbeing insights. We have already convened an initial roundtable with specially invited experts to address the strategic research needs. 

In addition, we continue to: 

  • work with the Office for National Statistics’ Measures of National Well-being Dashboard to ensure wellbeing and quality of life data is at the heart of decision-making and service delivery;
  • communicate organisations’ experiences of wellbeing measurement, for example through practice examples;
  • gain a better understanding of wellbeing policy making across different focus areas and local needs, and support local authorities to capture and use wellbeing evidence;
  • review the value and impact of measurement through evidence evaluations such as our Rapid Evidence Assessment of the ONS4 personal wellbeing measures and the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scales;
  • take a systems approach to deepen understanding of the synergies, overlaps and cumulative impacts of the 11 themes set out in DLUCH’s ARI.

If you are interested to partner with us in efforts to address these key objectives, please get in touch.

What is happening across other UK government departments?

The Department for Education (DfE) is exploring methods to appraise and evaluate the long-run wellbeing effects of policy interventions with children, building on the HM Treasury (2021) Wellbeing Guidance for Appraisal. 

To do this, it intends to develop the Lifetime Wellbeing Ready Reckoner, a generalisable appraisal toolkit for education and children’s services sectors, centred on wellbeing outcomes throughout the life course. 

DfE has issued a notice of intention for a feasibility study, inviting suppliers to register on the marketplace.

Through our work, we know that emotional health in childhood is a strong predictor of adult life satisfaction. Research shows that, combined with loneliness, low wellbeing can decrease chances of moving from education to employment. We need to regularly and robustly capture how young people are doing at a national scale and welcome the DfE’s intention to evaluate what works in this area.


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