Better policy making

Think tank: Institute for Government

Author(s): Tom Sasse; Alex Thomas

March 3, 2022

This report from UK think tank the Institute for Government looks at the causes of persistent failures and how government could change to make policy better.

Successive governments have struggled to tackle many of the biggest policy problems the country faces. This report examines the causes of persistent failures and sets out recommendations as to how government – both ministers and officials – could change to make policy better. It calls for stronger accountability for policy advice, decisions and outcomes, more diverse and expert civil service teams, and a strengthened Cabinet Office – to agree the government’s policy programme and hold departments to account. A new Office of the Prime Minister, and Steve Barclay’s move to be chief of staff to the prime minister while retaining ministerial duties at the Cabinet Office, is an opportunity for reform, but complex new reporting arrangements and a weak prime minister makes confusion likely. The report is published alongside a second new paper, A new statutory role for the civil service, which argues that the civil service urgently needs a new statutory role to clarify its purpose, reinforce its standing, enhance its accountability, and to strengthen the partnership between ministers and civil servants upon which government depends.