Better policy making

Improving how Whitehall does its core business

Behavioural economics: an insight into the future of policy making?

, 28 July 2015

“Behavioural economists look for ‘quirky’ behavioural patterns – it is only in the eyes of economists that these are misbehaviours.” Richard Thaler began with a number of anecdotes from his time as a graduate economics student. He and others began to observe several quirky behaviours exhibited by those around him, including the economics professor...

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Changing course – housing policy and planning reforms

, 17 July 2015

Last week, the Government announced important reforms to the housing planning system as part of its drive to improve UK productivity. The reforms include a significant departure from previous doctrines of localism and ‘development control’. The experience of other countries suggests these changes will be important steps towards improving the supply of housing in...

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In need of repair – CMA’s damning assessment of the energy market

, 9 July 2015

Energy prices have been a subject of controversy for quite some time, entangled in wider concerns about living costs, and featuring prominently in the political debate in the run up to the May general election. The combination of rising gas and electricity prices, deterioration in the standards of service, and news of soaring profits...

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A bumpy road ahead for fracking – infrastructure policy will struggle without the right institutions to support it

, 1 July 2015

A flagship policy of this government is the promotion of fracking – exploiting shale oil and gas through hydraulic fracturing. In 2014, David Cameron said that the Government was going ‘all out for shale’ as he announced tax incentives for councils that approved fracking in their area.

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Are we about to see an era of experimental government?

, 25 June 2015

Tuesday saw the What Works Team in the Cabinet Office launch the government’s Trial Advice Panel – a free service developed in partnership with the Economic and Social Research Council that offers Whitehall departments technical support in designing and implementing controlled experiments. This innovation owes much to the work of the Behavioural Insights Team...

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Cutting the onshore wind subsidy: four things to consider

, 22 June 2015

Voters tell us that they like politicians to live up to their manifesto promises. But by moving rapidly to deliver on the Conservative manifesto commitments on onshore wind, new Energy and Climate Secretary Amber Rudd shows why private sector infrastructure providers may be reluctant to invest in the UK, and why the...

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No contest – the time has come to ditch or reboot the Ministerial Contestable Policy Fund

, 19 June 2015

One of the flagship announcements in the 2012 Civil Service Reform Plan was the creation of a ministerial contestable policy find “to give ministers access to external policy advice”. The first outing was the IPPR study on accountability – but the patchy information provided on use of the fund to date...

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Speaking truth to power – from the crossbenches

, 1 June 2015

Newly ennobled Lord Kerslake has lobbed a hand grenade at his successor by taking the government to task over its housing proposals. But it also raises questions of how quickly civil servants should go public on their former responsibilities.

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Quick fixes: party manifestos and the governance of infrastructure

, 27 April 2015

The party manifestos all tackle key aspects of infrastructure policy. Miguel Coelho assesses the potential impact of their proposals.

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Educating Jeremy: how will the new Civil Service master’s course make a difference?

, 13 April 2015

The Civil Service has always rather looked down on the idea that formal qualifications can help you do the job as policy maker better. True, increasing numbers reach the top entering as professional economists. And the current government, although putting the old National School for Government onto the quango bonfire has set up both...

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