Better policy making

Improving how Whitehall does its core business

Kids Company: an anatomy of failure

, 2 February 2016

The recent Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) report repeatedly describes the failure of Kids Company as “extraordinary”. It depicts a charity suffering a chronic failure of governance, tipped into dramatic financial collapse in August last year. But while the high-profile failure of Kids Company is remarkable, it is far from unique:...

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Delivering major projects: the future

, 12 January 2016

In its report, the NAO rightly points to the fact that progress has been made on many key areas of major project oversight and delivery in the last few years, highlighting in particular the role of the Major Projects Authority (MPA) – now the Infrastructure and Major Projects Authority (IPA). The improvements it has...

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Making an evidence check work

, 5 January 2016

It’s often fiendishly difficult to find out what evidence (if any) underpins the policy announcements that ministers make – something we documented in our Show Your Workings report last October. Despite a government government commitment in 2013 to publish more of its evidence base, little progress has been made and the structure of the...

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Ready to engage? Improving citizens’ engagement in policy-making

, 16 December 2015

Over 50% of citizens want to be involved in major policy decisions, but only 7% feel their voices are heard.  If government can engage citizens more effectively, it can secure more effective and arguably less divisive outcomes. The Institute for Government and PwC recently collaborated on a research project looking at how citizens can...

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Trapped by politics – fresh delays in airport expansion decision

, 11 December 2015

Echoing the Prime Minister’s statement earlier in the week, McLoughlin confirmed that no decision will be made before next summer. This is the latest episode in multiple decades of political dithering. The Transport Secretary says the delay is to allow for a new study of environmental impacts, including air quality, noise and carbon pollution (which...

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Securing the long-term credibility of the OBR: four key changes are needed

, 30 November 2015

If the verdict on the recent Spending Review was that George Osborne is a lucky chancellor then Robert Chote, the head of the OBR, is seriously unlucky. A surprise modelling revision and embarrassing mistakes in the previous forecasts have left the OBR facing criticism around its credibility. There are four reforms that the OBR could...

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How Welsh public services benefit from cross-UK evidence exchange

, 27 November 2015

Over the last century, Wales has provided numerous examples of inspirational public service leadership. David Lloyd George created the first system of National Insurance for those who were sick or unemployed. Jim Griffiths used his experience as a miners’ leader in developing the modern state benefit system. And Aneurin Bevan used his experiences from...

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Time to end Budgets’ special treatment

, 18 November 2015

What is most interesting is why the politics – and policy making – around Budgets are treated so differently from other important government decisions. As George Osborne contemplates how to extricate himself from his tax credits problem next week, maybe it’s time for him to think about whether he – and the country –...

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Getting better at getting things done: launching the Whitehall implementation ‘profession’

, 12 November 2015

As Jeremy Heywood reminded us in his recent talk at the Institute for Government on the role of the Cabinet Secretary, and as highlighted in the new leadership statement, the core responsibility of the UK Civil Service is to deliver the Government’s programme and ministerial priorities. In this Parliament, that means implementing the 517 priorities set...

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Not a blunder: why is automatic enrolment working?

, 4 November 2015

Automatic enrolment was one of the main reforms to emerge from the Pensions Commission in 2005. To combat dwindling retirement incomes, automatic enrolment makes it compulsory for employers to enrol staff without pension plans into workplace pensions (but allows individuals to opt out if they wish). It was an early application of behavioural insights....

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