Getting policy implementation right is critically important. Failure can cause financial waste, political frustration and disruption for ordinary citizens, as demonstrated in a series of policy failures under governments of all parties. But while the literature on failure is considerable, there is a gap around practical accounts of how to make implementation effective in the distinctive context of government.

Through four in-depth case studies of policies in areas of social justice, the Institute for Government has identified eleven lessons for how ministers and officials can give their policies the best chance of getting delivered. These lessons, and particular challenges around implementing policies with a social justice focus, are brought together in this report.

Case studies

The four case studies - based on desk research, interviews and ‘reunion’ roundtables with key players – cover the following policies:

  • The London and City Challenges: a school improvement programme that ran in the capital ran from 2003 to 2011 and later in Greater Manchester and the Black Country.
  • Automatic enrolment into pensions: the policy to boost private savings for pensions through requiring all UK employers automatically to enrol their staff into a workplace pension, staging from 2012 – 2017.
  • The 2001 Fuel Poverty Strategy: the way in which the government went about implementing the 2001 commitment to end fuel poverty by 2016, focused on improving energy efficiency for vulnerable households.
  • Sure Start Children’s Centres: the expansion of a targeted local programme to enhance the life chances of disadvantaged children through early education, health services, family support and childcare to universal rollout of 3,500 Centres offering integrated services for families with young children.