This report sets out how government can improve the way it uses academic evidence and expertise in forming policy.

Policy making is a core task for government. But to make policy well government needs to be open to external ideas, including from academics. The UK Government currently spends £9 billion a year funding academic research: the UK has 30 of the top 200 universities in the world and is home to leading academics in virtually all disciplines. Many of those academics work on areas directly relevant to public policy.

But this report, based on interviews in 10 government departments, finds that government often struggles to draw on academia effectively when forming policy. This reduces officials’ ability to advise ministers on the basis of the best available evidence and expertise – one of the principles at the core of how UK government works. 

This report forms part of a project on how to build a better relationship between government and academia. The project received funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), as a follow-on project from the History of Whitehall programme.