Working in partnership

In this blog, our Senior Research Fellow, Megan Mathias discusses how the Centre draws in expertise to work on Wales’ public policy challenges

At the Wales Centre for Public Policy, we’re privileged to work across a vast array of policy areas. For example, right now we’re working on issues as diverse as Wales’ tax base, youth homelessness, underperforming health organisations, equalities, procurement – and many more.

We aren’t experts in all of these areas. We can’t be. Instead, our role is to connect in some of the world’s best experts to policy challenges faced here in Wales, and to do so intelligently.  That means we spend time understanding key challenges, working out what expertise might be helpful, and then searching out potential project partners.

We end up working with our expert partners in many different ways: working together on evidence reviews, asking for expert advice and opinion when available evidence is limited, holding events to connect public service leaders and policy makers directly to expert ideas, and so on. Each time we pay attention to the decisions that need to be made in Wales, and try to ensure the evidence and expert advice we provide is timely, and to the point.

So who are these experts, then? Well we’re pleased to say some of them are colleagues from universities here in Wales. We never limit our search to Wales, but sometimes our hunt for the right expert partners brings us back home. This is the case for the current project on Wales’ tax base, the analysis for which is being skilfully led by Guto Ifan and Ed Poole at the Wales Governance Centre.

Quite often we find that UK-based experts are well placed to help. People with deep knowledge of their field, and who have an understanding of the policy context in Wales and the wider UK can often be well placed to help translate evidence and ideas from around the world to our context (though here at the Centre, we don’t ever let go of that responsibility entirely). Some examples of expert partners we’re working with currently on this rationale include:

  • Professors Chris Pascal and Tony Bertram at the Centre for Research Early Childhood in Birmingham on the evidence on early years systems internationally;
  • Professor Sharon Collard, Research Director of the Personal Finance Research Centre at Bristol University on the treatment of vulnerable debtors by Welsh public authorities;
  • Professors Ellen Hazelkorn and John Goddard on policy options to embed the civic mission of universities and other higher education institutions.

We also work with experts from around the world. This is hugely important to us – bringing new insight into Wales is a core part of our mission. We regularly consult with academic and practitioner experts internationally, on all projects. And on some challenges, we identify expert partners overseas as perfectly placed to be our lead partner on a project. Again, a current example is the Centre’s project reviewing the international evidence on preventing youth homelessness – on which we are excited to be partnering with Doctors Kaitlin Schwan and Stephen Gaetz, of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness and David French and Melanie Redman from A Way Home Canada, the Canadian national coalition to end youth homelessness.

These are just some examples of the expert partnerships in place at the Centre at the moment. We’ve been privileged to work with many others on past projects too – as our catalogue of publications shows.

If you’d like to know any more about our approach to partnering, our current partnerships, or indeed are interested in partnering with us in future, please do get in touch with me.