Area Based Initiatives: EU Programmes

What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth

Year: 2016

This report presents findings pertinent to EU Cohesion Policy, especially Structural Funds spending, arising from a systematic review of evaluations of economic area based initiatives (ABIs). The review covered evidence on programmes that aim to improve economic growth in a specific, well-defined, local area or set of areas.

This report is the tenth review produced by the What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth. The What Works Centre is a collaboration between the London School of Economics and Political Science, Centre for Cities and Arup and is funded by the Economic & Social Research Council, The Department for Communities and Local Government and The Department for Business Innovation & Skills.

These reviews consider a specific type of evidence – impact evaluation – that seeks to understand the causal effect of policy interventions and to establish their cost-effectiveness. To put it another way they ask ‘did the policy work’ and ‘did it represent good value for money’? With this review we are particularly interested in demonstrating that the local economic impacts of area based initiatives can be rigorously evaluated and in drawing out the wider lessons for policy.

Evidence on impact and effectiveness is a crucial input to good policy making. Other ways of considering the impact of area based initiatives (e.g. case studies) provide a valuable complement to impact evaluation, but we do not focus on these in this report.

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Table of Contents

Executive Summary
Impact evaluation
Summary of findings
Appendix A: Findings by outcome
Appendix B: Evidence Reviewed