Looking at policy successes of the last 30 years, and bringing participants together in a series of policy reunions, we are aiming 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 the case studies featured in a poll of the most successful policies of the last thirty years of among members of the Political Studies Association. 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 factors 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 use of evidence.
  4. Take time and build in scope 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:

Project contacts

Programme Director