Better policy making

Improving how Whitehall does its core business

What Works Centres: Can They Deliver?

, 5 December 2014

It’s just over 18 months since the Cabinet Office announced the creation of a network of What Works Centres. Five are now up and running. Together, these centres have made considerable progress in pulling together available evidence on effective interventions and sharing it with frontline practitioners. Some have also helped fill gaps in our...

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Guest blog: The What Works Network – a Lunar Society for the 21st Century

, 3 December 2014

Two and a half centuries ago, the Lunar Society – it met during the full moon when Birmingham streets were safer – was at its most imaginative and experimental. Among its prominent members Matthew Boulton was revolutionising manufacturing, Erasmus Darwin was transforming education, Josiah Wedgewood was innovating in pottery and James Watt was exploiting...

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Special advice: how to make a prime ministerial unit work

, 19 November 2014

The phone rings. It’s the prime minister. You’re being asked to lead a unit to take on the burning issue which Whitehall business-as-usual can’t or won’t solve. What should you do? Our advice is to pause, breathe deeply, and read the Institute for Government’s guide to leading a central government unit. The Special Ones:...

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Honesty is the best policy: why the civil service policy profession needs to keep talking about the progress it’s making.

, 13 October 2014

The Civil Service Policy Profession has marked a busy year in its agenda to improve the core function of Whitehall, but the real test of whether policy making is becoming a truly professional discipline may be its continued willingness to discuss openly how far there is still to go.

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Improving housing supply requires planning reforms

, 12 September 2014

The CBI argued in its Housing Britain report published earlier this week, that housing “is not just a social priority – it is a key business issue; high cost of moving home, and lack of decent and affordable housing, are barriers to attracting and retaining employees”. It sees the failure of successive governments to...

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Family friendly government?

, 18 August 2014

The middle of August may not sound like the best time to announce a new policy initiative – to subject all government policy to a family impact test. But that is what David Cameron has just done. In a speech to the Royal College of General Practitioners he said: “I want every government department...

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Then and now – learning lessons for the new fuel poverty strategy

, 1 August 2014

No-one can accuse the current government of rushing into publishing a new strategy on fuel poverty. There has been an extensive review of the issue by Professor Sir John Hills published in March 2012, followed more than a year later by DECC’s new ‘framework for future action’ redefining the problem, and then earlier this...

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Memo to a new minister: how to keep implementation on track in the final year

, 17 July 2014

Last autumn, the Prime Minister told the Commons Liaison Select Committee that 2014-15 was to be the year of delivery. Today, as his new ministerial teams convene to make plans for the final nine months of this parliament, the pressure is on to make that happen. New research from the Institute for Government published...

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The reshuffle dilemma: make-over or make progress?

, 14 July 2014

With the long-awaited reshuffle imminent, there are likely to be several changes among junior ministers. While this may or may not make for good party management, it threatens to disrupt policy implementation at the point when stability and focus are needed most.

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Armitt’s National Infrastructure Commission – moving towards a more sensible debate

, 9 July 2014

Ed Miliband announced last week that Labour intends to establish an independent National Infrastructure Commission if it returns to power.

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