Working to make government more effective


All Change: Why Britain is so prone to policy reinvention, and what can be done about it

Why policy reinvention leads to huge waste and little progress.

All Change lays bare the staggering amount of change in key government policies over the last five decades.

The report examines three policy areas which have experienced near-constant upheaval: further education, regional governance and industrial policy. For example, the last 30 years have seen 28 major pieces of legislation relating to further education led by 48 secretaries of state. And there have been three industrial strategies in the last decade.

The cost of all this reinvention – both human and economic – is high. In further education, thousands of students and employers are faced with a confusing and ever-changing set of qualifications, with no certainty that those same qualifications will exist a few years down the line.

Creating a new department – often at short notice and poorly planned – costs £15m in the first year alone. Taking into account the temporary disruption to business, as people grapple with the logistics of creating a new department, the longer-term costs are substantially higher.

With contributions from former Adviser to David Cameron, Rachel Wolf, and Times columnist and former Blair speechwriter Philip Collins, the paper argues that reinvention leads to huge waste and little progress.

Timelines of policy, structural and personnel changes

Infographic: How can we stop reinventing policies? 

Institute for Government

Related content