Better policy making

Improving how Whitehall does its core business

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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Budget sweeteners and credit

, 23 March 2015

While the Chancellor is being given credit for eschewing a big pre-election giveaway in the final Budget of the parliament, his speech showed an acute sensitivity to the electoral geography of the UK and the general public mood.

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Raging against the machine: how prime ministers can deal with the frustration of not getting things done

, 13 March 2015

In an interview with the FT today, David Cameron complains about the “buggeration factor” of trying to “force policy through the system, with its consultations and reviews”. Earlier in the week, Lord Falconer set out Labour’s plans to avoid such frustration, if it wins office, by creating more powerful support around the PM. Both...

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Good data, good policy?

, 11 March 2015

On Saturday 7 March, Radical Statistics held their annual conference on the subject, ‘Good Data, Good Policy?’ Gavin Freeguard was asked what could be done to improve the current situation – he gives a summary of his contribution below.

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