Better policy making

Improving how Whitehall does its core business

Heathrow – the cycle of political procrastination has to end

, 19 October 2016

Yesterday’s announcement is the latest chapter in decades of political procrastination on airport capacity in London. Although Theresa May will announce the Government’s ‘preferred location’ for a new runway next week, there will not be a parliamentary vote for at least a year. This is a stark contrast to the decisive action rumoured last...

Posted in Better policy making | No Comments »

Troubled Families takeaways

, 18 October 2016

The good news is that the Government commissioned a rigorous independent evaluation of the Troubled Families programme from the respected National Institute for Economic and Social Research. That report, initially due at the end of 2015, was subject to delays and accusations that inconvenient results were being suppressed. The final publication confirms the view that the...

Posted in Better policy making | No Comments »

Overspends on electricity subsidies highlight the need to manage uncertainty

, 18 October 2016

In some cases, uncertainty is unavoidable. In 2011, government decided to forecast and cap its spending on subsidies for low-carbon electricity (payments to wind farms, solar panels, etc). It knew that this process would inevitably involve managing big unknowns: windier conditions would mean more payments to wind farms, while some subsidies were linked to...

Posted in Better policy making | No Comments »

New Zealand’s reforms to improve policymaking

, 5 October 2016

Prime Minister John Key launched three policy improvement frameworks produced by the Policy Project, a cross-agency team tasked with lifting policy quality and capability across the New Zealand Public Service. He praised the Public Service (the equivalent of the UK Civil Service), but added that any good organisation had to look to the future...

Posted in Better policy making | No Comments »

Hinkley: the dubious value of the Value for Money assessment

, 3 October 2016

Today the Chancellor stated that the UK’s infrastructure decisions would be driven by “long-term economics, not short-term politics”. The Value for Money assessment for Hinkley Point C was one of his first opportunities to demonstrate that commitment, showing that the decision to spend £30bn on a new nuclear power station was driven by hard-nosed...

Posted in Better policy making | No Comments »

Go ahead on Hinkley points to poor infrastructure decision making

, 16 September 2016

During her first couple of months as Prime Minister, Theresa May has shown her willingness to break with her predecessor. She paused prison reform and signalled a completely different approach to schools, delayed the Heathrow decision and reviewed the Universal Credit timetable. But the most eye catching change she made, within 20 days of...

Posted in Better policy making | 1 Comment »

Lessons from Universal Credit to help current and future major projects

, 9 September 2016

Universal Credit has attracted a lot of controversy over the years, often with good reason. But it is worth restating that the core aim – of simplifying benefits – is worthwhile and has enjoyed cross-party support. The complexity of the benefits system has created real problems for the people using it. At its worst,...

Posted in Better policy making | No Comments »

Universal Credit – a programme in recovery?

, 6 September 2016

Three years ago today the media was full of a report from the National Audit Office on Universal Credit. It was entitled “early progress”, but what it chiefly charted was a lack of progress. Universal Credit had hit such trouble that David Pitchford, then head of the Major Projects Authority, recommended that it needed...

Posted in Better policy making | No Comments »

What are Theresa May’s policy priorities as Parliament returns?

, 5 September 2016

What progress has been made over the summer? Since the last instalment of our series on what is happening to the domestic agenda, and although Parliament has not been sitting, there has been some movement on key priorities: The renewal of Trident looks set to go ahead following a Commons vote in which a...

Posted in Better policy making | No Comments »

NHS England must get smarter about how it engages the public

, 1 September 2016

For ordinary citizens, last week’s media coverage was likely the first they heard about the NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs). According to the Guardian, the plans have been ‘shrouded in secrecy’ with the public largely unaware of how significant the changes are going to be. The STPs — of which there will be...

Posted in Better policy making | No Comments »