Better policy making

Improving how Whitehall does its core business

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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Placing the career ladder on a stable platform

, 6 March 2015

Apprenticeships were front and centre of skills minister Nick Boles’ forward-looking speech on UK skills strategy. The focus, he said, will be on dramatically increasing the number and quality of apprenticeship programmes: he described the approach as “adding rungs to a ladder”, with the focus now on “adding some rungs to the top” by...

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History matters

, 26 January 2015

The long-delayed Chilcot Inquiry is a recent example of importance placed on history. One of the Inquiry’s main aims is to ‘to identify the lessons that can be learned… ensure that, if we face similar situations in future, the government of the day is best equipped to respond to those situations in the...

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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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