Public policy

Resources exploring government policy

London Funders' Publications
Decentralising innovation from Whitehall will unleash creativity
(2011) CCLA sponsored Powerful Ideas No 1, Chris Grayling, Minister for Employment in the Department for Work and Pensions supporting his argument with the example of the Work Programme, soon to be launched at that time.

Happy-clappy politics and smiley faces – why the government’s happiness agenda is putting society at risk
(2011) CCLA sponsored Powerful Ideas No 2, Claire Fox, broadcaster and Chief Executive of the Institute for Ideas

Localism will lead to the emancipation of local government and give much-needed power back to the people
(2011) CCLA sponsored Powerful Ideas No 3, Andy Sawford, Chief Executive, Local Government Information Unit 

There’s nothing to fear from a postcode lottery
(2011) CCLA sponsored Powerful Ideas No 4, Tony Travers, Director, Greater London Group, London School of Economics and Political Science

The elections, the economy, public spending and London
(2010) Presentation by Tony Travers at London Funders' Annual General Meeting 2010.



2011 Census data - new tables

Key statistics and quick statistics for ward and output areas in England and Wales: details such as household language; composition of families; health and disability; method of travel-to-work etc., down to ward and output areas across England and Wales. Where available, there is comparison with 2001 census results.
Neighbourhood statistics: detailed tables at ten different geographic levels.
Key statistics and quick statistics for health and postcode areas.
Detailed characteristics for LAs in England and Wales: migration, ethnicity, identity, language, religion, unpaid care and health; this section allows multiple characteristics to be cross-tabulated.
Detailed characteristics on housing in LA areas in England and Wales
Key and quick statistics on built-up areas
Population and household estimates for postcodes
Population estimates by single year of age and sex for LAs
There is also a searchable index of all the available material here. ONS also offers an email alert service for new reports and data release on selected subjects. Sign up here.

The Guardian: Bedroom Tax
Randeep Ramesh
This Guardian article describes how half the families hit by the bedroom tax are now in debt and looks at a survey by the National Housing Federation.

The Big Society Audit 2012
Caroline Slocock, Civil Exchange, 2012
A first independent audit of the Big Society, supported by Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation UK, designed to set a baseline for future change and recording initiatives under way for some time in community empowerment, opening up public services and social action. 

The Big Society Audit 2013
Caroline Slocock (December 2013)
The Big Society Audit 2013 looks beyond the rhetoric of this controversial policy to find out what’s been happening in practice.  There are some positives but also a large gap between actions and words, particularly in relation to public services. The Big Society Audit focuses on three key strands identified by the Government as key to its delivery when it was launched: community empowerment, opening up public services and social action.

The Big Society: how could it work
PACES (Public Agency and Community Empowerment Strategies) has published a paper looking at some of the individual components of the Big Society idea from a critical-friendly perspective suggesting tweaks and changes for successful implementation.

Better rates: how to ensure the new business rates regime promotes growth everywhere
IPPR (June 2016)
This is a comprehensive analysis of the government's newly announced scheme that will allow the local government sector in England to keep all of the money it collectively raises through taxing businesses (‘business rates’). IPPR recommends an alternative system that would better distribute incentives and rewards, and promote growth across the country.

Blending, Braiding and Balancing: Combining formal and informal modes for social action
Third Sector Research Centre (March 2016)
This paper questions the view that formal procedures and structures tend to be regarded by policymakers and public officials as the optimal or default mode (of organising for collective action). The authors argue that informal processes are crucial and beneficial for inclusive community participation at grassroots level.

Brexit: impact across policy areas
House of Commons, August 2016

This paper looks at the current situation in a range of policy areas and considers what impact Brexit might have. This will depend, among other things, on the Brexit negotiations, whether the UK stays in the European Economic Area and how the Government fills any policy gaps left by withdrawal.

The Condition of Britain: Interim report
Kayte Lawton (December 2013)
The IPPR Condition of Britain programme is considering how politics, institutions and policies need to change to respond to the major currents in British society after the crash. In this report, the findings from the first stage of the work are set out.

Connected Councils: A digital vision of local government in 2025
Nesta (March 2016)
This report examines how digital technologies could help councils save money, foster local economic growth and deliver better outcomes for local residents and communities. It sets out a vision of where councils might be in 2025 to better understand what opportunities they face now.

The cost of troubled families
DCLG, January 2013
The financial case for local authorities and other local agencies to invest in effective services for troubled families, based on experience of some local authorities including Barnet, Hounslow, Tri-Borough (Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster) and Wandsworth. Analysis of public sector costs with/without preventative measures and holistic approaches, and challenges of costing complex services and operating across departmental and agency budgets. 

Councils face a difficult task in replacing Council Tax Benefit

Institute for Fiscal Studies and Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2012

Key findings of this report suggest localisation acts as a tool for furthering the governments’ aims of allowing support to vary in line with local priorities, but also give councils an incentive to discourage low-income families from living in the area and act as a disincentive to take-up of support.


Decentralisation decade: A plan for economic prosperity, public service transformation and democratic renewal in England
IPPR (September 2014)
IPPR argues that England’s 80-year-long experiment with centralisation has failed, and it is time to embark on a new journey: a programme of decentralisation that will liberate the nation, drive prosperity and growth, and provide a new platform for more innovative and effective public service reform and a society that is more equal.

Departments’ oversight of arm’s length bodies: a comparative study
National Audit Office, July 2016

There is no collective understanding of what type of oversight is appropriate and cost effective for different types of arm’s-length bodies, according to today’s report from the National Audit Office.

Arm’s-length bodies (ALBs) is a commonly used term covering a wide range of public bodies, including non-ministerial departments, non-departmental public bodies, executive agencies and other bodies, such as public corporations. Departments rely on ALBs to carry out a range of important functions, many of which are vital to delivering departments’ strategic objectives.

Devolution for people and communities
NAVCA and Locality (January 2016)
This joint paper outlines a set of key principles that should underpin devolution in England. These include: meaningful representation of the voluntary and community sector; ensuring accountability through effective community engagement; working with local organisations to transform public services and creating a social economy.

A dose of localism: the role of councils in public health
Laurie Thraves, LGIU and City of Westminster, 2013
How local authorities might address their new public health responsibilities in the context of increased demand (e.g. increasing diabetes, dementia and heart disease) and the great reduction of resources over the current spending review period. Argument based on councils Integrating public health across all service areas, helping communities to provide services for themselves and investing in prevention.

English devolution deals
National Audit Office (April 2016)
Devolution deals to devolve power from central government to local areas in England offer opportunities to stimulate economic growth and reform public services for local users. However, the arrangements are untested and government could do more to provide confidence that these deals will achieve the benefits intended, according to this report.

The Enabling State: From Rhetoric to Reality
Jenny Brotchie, 2013
This case study compendium aims to profile some new ways of working to help clarify what we mean when we talk about a more ‘Enabling State’ and to identify some early learning.

Filling the gap
The Health Foundation and IPPR (November 2015)
This report explores how pressures on UK public spending on health and social care are likely to increase, whether the funding gap can be filled within current fiscal policy, and what impacts different tax options could have. To deal with a combined funding gap that is projected to amount to £8 billion by 2020/21, it considers the potential effects of a lower-than-planned public finance surplus, and of increasing taxes – including the option of a 'sin-tax' on sugar.

Finding the Good in EVEL, Queen Mary University of London (November 2016)

Recent political developments have focused attention on the ‘English Question’. In response to the 2014 Scottish referendum result, the UK government initiated a procedural reform in the House of Commons known as ‘English Votes for English Laws’ (EVEL), which was formally adopted in October 2015. This report results from an in-depth academic research project into EVEL. It evaluates how the procedures fared during their first year in operation, and weighs arguments for and against such a reform. Based on this analysis, it makes a series of constructive proposals to improve the current system.

Download here

A Fairer London: The 2014 Living Wage in London
GLA (November 2014)
The 10th London Living Wage report from the GLA calculates the wage for 2014 at £9.15 per hour (a 4.0% increase on the 2013 wage). The total of accredited London employers has more than doubled in the past year to over 400.

The Future Town Hall
LGiU (December 2013)
A collection of essays from LGiU to mark their 30th anniversary, including contributions from leading local government practitioners, commentators and thinkers on what local democracy might look thirty years from now.

Future World Giving: Building Trust in Charitable Giving
Charities Aid Foundation, January 2014
Heavy handed government policy and regulatory mismanagement in many parts of the world have damaged the public reputation of charities, according to the report by the Charities Aid Foundation, an international charity which promotes charitable giving and provides financial services and social finance to charities and not-for-profit organisations. The report warns that government-fuelled suspicion of not-for-profit organisations could jeopardise efforts to promote giving among new generations of middle class people emerging across the world, which could contribute up to $224 billion a year to good causes by 2030.

Get in on the Act: Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016
Local Government Association (February 2016)
This publication aims to provide readers with an introduction to the Act and summarises the main issues on which the Local Government Association (LGA) campaigned.

Going Public
Fabian Society (November 2014)
Going Public is a report about how public services can ‘go public’ – how they can involve the public in everything they do; how they can deliver value for the public; and how they can embody a special public character and spirit.

Government takes steps towards improving transparency in public spending
NCVO (May 2016)
A blog welcomes new government commitments to use open contracting and to improve the data it collects on grant-making.

Hard Times, New Directions? The Impact of the Local Government Spending Cuts in London
Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE (2013)
Part of the Social Policy in a Cold Climate project, this report contains an independent estimate of the size of the cuts to local government budgets; London local government has taken a 33% real terms cut in service funding from central government between 2009/10 and 2013/14.

How will the new Charities Act affect your charity?
Cabinet Office (May 2016)
A new timetable has been published explaining the different sections of the new Charities Act.

The impact of funding reductions on local authorities
NAO (November 2014)
The National Audit Office has found that local authorities have coped well with reductions in government funding, but some groups of authorities are showing clear signs of financial stress. It also reports that the Department for Communities and Local Government has a limited understanding of authorities’ financial sustainability and the impacts of funding cuts on services.

Independence in Question: the voluntary sector in 2016
Civil Exchange (March 2016)
This is the fifth annual assessment of the state of health of the voluntary sector. It warns that the independence of the charity sector is at a five-year low. It also highlights how the new ‘no advocacy’ clauses in all taxpayer-funded grants announced in February 2016 mark a shift in the balance of voices shaping public policy.

Little Big Societies: micro-mapping of organisations operating below the radar
Andri Soteri-Proctor, Third Sector Research Centre Working and Briefing Paper 71, 2011
Study of two very small areas in depth, a reminder of how many community organisations are very small and informal. The researchers found 58 community groups operating in and around 11 streets – groups not on regulators’ lists and missing from more standard VCS analysis, yet delivering diverse services for specific interests and target communities.

Local authorities and child poverty
Child Poverty Action Group, 2013
A UK-wide summary of the current programme of welfare reform and its impact on household budgets, including a tabulated list of each reform with its implementation date and the client groups affected, examples of ways in which local authorities are managing the reforms at local level, and of borough-wide strategic development, concluding with recommendations from local to central government. 

Love thy neighbourhood: People and place in social reform
Ed Cox with Mark Harrison, Bill Davies, Anna Turley (November 2013)
A blueprint for rethinking and revitalising neighbourhoods policy, this report draws together a wealth of research into how and why neighbourhoods are changing in Britain. It explores the pressures that they face, the resources and capacities they have within them, and how both people and policies can make them better places to live and work.

Making Policy Stick: Tackling Long Term Challenges in Government- Institute for Government, December 2016

 The new Prime Minister Theresa May has put a number of long-term policy goals at the centre of her premiership, pledging to champion social mobility and implement a modern industrial strategy. But if she is to make progress on these and other testing policy endeavours, she will need to break with the disappointing record of her predecessors in staying focused on delivering long-term change.

This will have to be done at a time of great challenges. Brexit has already incurred delays in other parts of the Government’s business. There is also an extremely challenging fiscal environment that clearly presents difficulties for the Prime Minister’s new agenda on social mobility, particularly if progress in this area requires upfront investment to unlock distant benefits.

Download here

The government’s response to Lord Hodgson and PASC
Christine Rigbry (2013)
This briefing by Christine Rigby outlines the government’s response and charity law reform.

Nowhere to turn? Changes to emergency support
The Children’s Society, 2013
Report on changes in the resources available for emergency needs of the poorest households, describing the beginnings of local welfare assistance schemes set up by local authorities.  

Out of trouble - families with complex problems, a guide for funders
New Philanthropy Capital, 2012
The summer riots in 2011 brought troubled families to the public’s attention and the Prime Minister pledged to support 120,000 families. This report reflects on the concern over whether troubled families will really get the support they need and where funders can make a difference.

Paragon Initiative: How to achieve effective government
Institute of Economic Affairs (October 2015)
The Paragon Initiative is a major new five-year project. It will be the largest body of research ever undertaken by the IEA. This is the opening report, which sets out the aim to assess in detail the current problems we face across all major government functions. It will be highly critical of the performance of government, because unless politicians acknowledge the poor outcomes and understand their underlying causes, no action will be taken to deliver the significant changes required.

The initiative will determine the fundamental reforms that are needed to the way we are governed to solve these problems, and produce a roadmap towards a world where people have more control over their own lives and politicians are able to concentrate more effectively on the core functions of government.

Post-truth, post-Brexit statistics
Britain in Numbers, September 2016
The recent political coming and goings (the EU referendum, the arrival of a new Prime Minster and Labour’s travails) has seen a period of unusual attitudes to facts. More people seemingly want information and yet the (accurate) use of facts by politicians, some elements of the media and quite a few people has fallen to new lows. Experts are being rubbished, institutions’ reputations are being damaged, and the media is accused of being biased, prompting discussion of a post-truth society. There is much talk of a fractured Britain as technology and globalisation have hastened economic disruption affecting many livelihoods.

This note sets out a few steps – go local, kill the average, be open, do good research, un-spin and tell good stories – that the statistics world might take to help people reconnect with reality and help policy makers understand what might be needed if we are to establish a more sensible approach to debate and policy. It has much in common with the Data Manifesto published by the Royal Statistical Society two years ago.

Prisons and prevention: Giving local areas the power to reduce offending
IPPR (January 2016)
Drawing from case studies of a number of successful youth justice programmes in the US and England, this report explains how ‘unfreezing’ the resources that are currently locked up in the centralised adult criminal justice system could help prevent crime and develop better and more cost-effective alternatives to custody. With the prison population continuing to rise and the Ministry of Justice braced for further cuts, IPPR argues that we can't afford not to make the prison budget part of the next phase of the devolution revolution. 

Prosperity, Poverty and Inequality in London
Ruth Lupton, Polly Vizard, Amanda Fitzgerald, Alex Fenton, Ludovica Gambaro and Jack Cunliffe, July 2013
An expert seminar was held in July to discuss new research by LSE's Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion. The research is being funded by Trust for London and provides a comprehensive picture of which groups of Londoners won and lost during the boom and then the downturn. The seminar was attended by London policymakers and representatives from voluntary organisations. Find notes of the discussion here

Protecting information across government
National Audit Office, September 2016
In the context of a challenging national picture it has been difficult for government to attract people with the right skills. The government established a security profession in 2013, and has undertaken some initial work to establish professional learning and development. Demand for skills and learning across government is growing and is likely to continue to grow. According to the NAO, plans to cluster security teams may initially share scarce skills, but will not solve the long-term challenge.

According to the NAO, the Cabinet Office is taking action to improve its support for departments, but needs to set out how this will be delivered in practice. The NAO recommends that to reach a point where it is clearly and effectively coordinating activity across government, the Cabinet Office must further streamline the roles and responsibilities of the organisations involved, deliver its own centrally managed projects cost-effectively and clearly communicate how its various policy, principles and guidance documents can be of most use to departments.

The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012: One Year On
Cabinet Office, January 2014
This document provides an update on implementation of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012. The Social Value Act came into force on 31 January 2013 and requires commissioners to think about how they can secure wider social, economic and environmental benefits when procuring services. This report outlines how commissioners have responded to the act during its first year, and looks at the government’s plans to advance social value in the future.

Re-igniting Growth
Economic and Social Research Council, 2013
Challenges the UK faces after the economic downturn and initiatives or policy changes that could help kick start growth. Includes a series of interviews with academics funded by the ESRC to provide context and a variety of approaches to the economic problems the UK is experiencing.

The relational state: how recognising the importance of human relationships could revolutionise the role of the state
Institute for Public Policy Research, 2012
Essays on the idea of the ‘relational state’ – an intellectual and political perspective on statecraft and the public services, and what it might mean for centre-left politics. With essays from Geoff Mulgan and Marc Spears, it details both shared ground and sharp disagreement amongst those who are interested in advancing the concept.

The Rise of the Enabling State
Jennifer Wallace (December 2013)
This report from the Carnegie Trust explores existing evidence and policy developments on how this shift from a welfare state to an enabling state is taking place across the UK and Ireland.

Rising to the Challenge: A policy agenda to tackle low pay
The Work Foundation (July 2014)
This is the final paper in the Work Foundation’s ‘Bottom 10 Million’ research programme, which examined the employment prospects of workers earning less than £15,000 a year. In this report, the Work Foundation outlines a set of policies that would help to shape the framework for the UK’s first coordinated strategy for tackling low pay, proposing that the Government sets out a strategic framework for a coordinated low pay strategy for the UK, which explicitly aims to reduce the share of low-wage jobs in the British economy. Action to address low pay is required on three fronts: raising wage floors; enabling progression; facilitating higher wage business models.

Risky Business
Nigel Keohane, Ian Mulheirn and Ryan Shorthouse
Social Market Foundation, 2013

The authors argue that effective transfer of financial accountability is the holy grail of public service reform and explore the potential of payment by results and social impact bonds to deliver. They explore the models, examples and barriers and set out practical proposals about risk reduction.

Social Policy in a Cold Climate
Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, London School of Economics, 2013
A set of reports from a programme of research to examine the effects of major economic and political changes in the UK from 2007-15, particularly their impact on the distribution of wealth, poverty and social mobility. These reports cover the period up to 2010.

Still too poor to pay: three years of localised council tax support in London
Still too poor to pay is the latest report from CPAG and Z2K in a series that examines how London council tax support schemes have changed in the last three years and analyses the impact these changes have had on claimants.
The report offers new data on council tax support provided by local authorities and compares this data with data from the previous years.
CPAG and Z2K recommend that central government should reinstate council tax support as a national benefit providing up to 100 per cent support for people on low incomes. It should also ringfence and separately identify funding for local authorities, so that they can see how much funding they receive and ensure that it is all spent on council tax.

Speaking Up! Foundations and advocacy in Europe
GrantCraft, 2012
European countries have diverse traditions in philanthropy, and many foundations not only fund advocacy but directly influence policy agendas through their operational programmes. This guide explores how foundations do so through interaction with local and national government as well as the European institutions. 

Spending Review 2015
National Audit Office, July 2016
There have been improvements in the way government plans and manages public sector activity, but the NAO does not consider that there exists a coherent, enduring framework for planning and management.

This report is published alongside ‘Government’s management of its performance: progress with single departmental plans’.

Tackling the high cost credit problem: The importance of real-time regulatory databases
Centre for Responsible Credit, September 2013
This CfRC report calls on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to put in place US style responsible lending rules to end high cost lenders. It recommends a real time database where details of loabs are logged, sensible limits places and a cap on the total costs, charges and fees that lender can charge. It also details how people in financial difficulty could be provided with better support. 

Take Part in London's Big Society
Report on London Civic Forum’s Take Part Learning Programme which helped Londoners gain skills, confidence and knowledge for active citizenship through community activities.

Tax rates
Ripped-off Britons blog (2013)
Using the Office of National Statistics figures, this blog argues that when including indirect as well as direct taxes, the wealthiest fifth of Britain’s population pay a lower rate of tax than the poorest fifth.

Tough Times
Audit Commission, November 2011
Analysis of local authorities’ responses to the challenging financial climate, summarising the extent of cuts, the immediate impact and risk factors.

What local government needs to know – report series
The new Knowledge Navigator commissioned Local Government ‘Need to Know' is a series of reports on topics that have been identified as priorities by local government. Local Government needs accessible, relevant and reliable knowledge, coupled with the necessary ‘navigation' aids to route people to what is available to meet these requirements. The first Review ‘What Councils Need to Know about People with Learning Disabilities', prepared by Dr. Paula Black, is available now. The Knowledge Navigators envisage that each Review will inform, but also trigger debate and generate an appetite for further exploring the research knowledge base. They are also designed to generate local government and research community collaboration where the Reviews and the debate around them identify new knowledge requirements. More information can be found here.

What Now? Interpreting our conference with the London School of Economics
Sarasin and Partners, July 2016
Sarasin & Partners, in conjunction with LSE, took part in a short sharp and frank analysis of the tough issues to be faced now that the UK electorate has chosen to leave the EU. The conference was a unique gathering of economic, business and political experts. Speakers and panellists addressed the impact of the EU referendum on the UK’s economic, investment and political spheres, and the wider global fallout of a ‘leave’ vote.

Whose localism?
In this thought piece, Hilary Barnard, Senior Visiting Fellow at Cass Business School, offers his view of the consequences of the government’s policies on localism, and the Localism Bill.

Working with troubled families
Louise Casey, DCLG, 2012
The latest report from the head of the government’s Troubled Families programme endorses family intervention as the most effective way to turn problem families around and asks councils to review their own ways of working with troubled families and adopt family intervention principles.