By looking at policy successes of the last 30 years, and by bringing previous participants together, we tried to understand what lay behind those successes.

Our final report The 'S' Factors - Lessons from IFG's policy success reunions draws lessons from six case studies: privatisation, the introduction of the national minimum wage, Scottish devolution, the ban on smoking in public places, pensions reform and the Climate Change Act.

Three of our case studies featured in a poll among members of the Political Studies Association of the most successful policies of the last thirty years. The three more recent examples met our definition of policy success: surviving a change of government and becoming the starting point for new policy development.

The report identifies seven common requirements behind the success of these policies:

  1. Understand the past and learn from failure.
  2. Open up the policy process.
  3. Be rigorous in analysis and the use of evidence.
  4. Allow time and space for iteration and adaptation.
  5. Recognise the importance of individual leadership and strong personal relationships.
  6. Create new institutions to overcome policy inertia.
  7. Build a wider constituency of support.

The individual case studies are available below:

  1. The Privatisation of British Telecom (1984)
  2. The introduction of the National Minimum Wage (1998)
  3. Scottish Devolution (1997-9)
  4. Pensions reform: The Pensions Commission (2002-6)
  5. The Ban on Smoking in Public Places (2007)
  6. The Climate Change Act (2008)


As a precursor to the publication of the main report, the Institute surveyed Political Studies Association members to discover what they considered to be the greatest policy successes of the past 30 years and why. The results are summarised below:

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