Category: Policymaking

Four things to watch in 2017

To start the year, we want to examine four big issues that preoccupied public policy in 2016, giving you the most insightful perspectives from the think tanks. We’ll go on to suggest where the action might be in the new year.

1. Can we seal the deal on Brexit?

The wide mandate claimed by the government in enacting the “will of the people” through Brexit comes with risks. Missteps will have drastic political consequences, and delays are proving to be just as damaging. Downing Street is already being criticised for cautious micromanagement, and in the absence of a clear plan set out from the centre “trying to divine the Government’s position from the personal musings of individual ministers is creating unhelpful uncertainty” (Institute for Government).

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On being an expert when the British people won’t be told

In ‘The Economics of Happiness’, the Swiss professor Bruno S Frey argues that over 600 referenda have contributed to the happiness of his fellow citizens. The Swiss can trigger an optional referendum if 50,000 people or eight of its 26 cantons have petitioned to do so within 100 days. A mandatory vote can be triggered by ‘popular initiative’: 100,000 valid signatures within 18 months. If the government is at issue with the the initiative, it can table a counterproposal – which is most often preferred by voters to the original proposal. What, specifically, has the “statistically significant, robust and sizeable effect on happiness”, measured by Frey? “The institutionalised right of individual political participation.”

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The big think tank review of 2015

In 2015, we worried about

Pressure on A&E. Yes, this was as much a concern last New Year’s Eve as it was in 2015. Here are four ideas on how to deal with the issue Institute for Economic Affairs

Who benefits from innovation. In a landmark essay, Geoff Mulgan admits that there is little evidence that innovation provides genuine social benefits Nesta

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Think tanks on… the Comprehensive Spending Review

George Osborne is due to publish the 2015 Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) on 25th November, where he will set out how the public sector will have to deliver the £20 billion further savings required to eliminate Britain’s deficit by 2019/2020.

So, what does it all mean? The Institute for Government argues that the hard work remains to be done, taking a look at implications for DfT, DEFRA, DCLG and the Treasury – all of whom will have their budgets cut by 30% up to 2020. More broadly, IfG casts doubt on the government’s intention to deliver ‘more with less’, although it certainly agrees that there will be much less to manage with.

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