IfGThe problem is that good policy proposals are often driven off course by political timescales and opposed for reasons of political opportunism - Numerous attempts to improve policy making under the last government fell short and left civil servants feeling frustrated, according to new research by the Institute for Government.  The year-long research into better policy making was based on interviews with 50 senior civil servants & 20 former ministers, as well as an analysis of 60 evaluations of government policy.

The new report (Making Policy Better) proposes a series of changes to embed better policy making into the system.  They build on the new Policy Skills Framework announced by the Civil Service last year - but drive those changes further & faster.

The IfG argues:
* Ministers need to be involved in policy earlier & at the strategic goal-setting stage
* the policy process needs to be more open & have greater scope for challenge
* the civil service needs better analytic skills
* but also to become better at innovation & policy design and to value knowledge & expertise more. 

The emphasis in this report is on how the Civil Service needs to change.  The Institute is also looking at what makes an effective minister, which will be published in May 2011.
 Press release ~ Making Policy Better ~ Policy making in the real world ~ System Stewardship ~ Additional IfG webpages ~ Government Policy Skills Framework 2010 ~ Making & Breaking Whitehall Departments: A guide to machinery of government changes (3.3Mb) ~ ‘We trained Hard’ Petronius (AD 166) quote ~ NSG: The relentless unforeseen: the case for strategy in government ~ NSG: Place Based Innovation ~ NAO: Helping Government Learn ~ NSG Virtual Learning Portal ~ Professional Skills for Government (PSG) strategy ~ PMPA reports ~ Whole Systems Go!: Improving leadership across the whole public service system ~ Engagement and Aspiration: Reconnecting Policy Making with Front-Line Professionals ~ Listening to the frontline: Capturing insight and learning lessons in policy making ~ IDeA: Project, programme and change management toolkit ~ Public Service Leadership (PSL) ~ Change You Can Believe In: The Leadership of Innovation ~ Innovation across central government ~ Measuring up: How good are the Government's data systems for monitoring performance against Public Service Agreements? ~ NAO: Innovation across central government ~ Achieving Innovation in Central Government Organisations (2006) ~ Is Evidence-Based Government Possible? ~ How research and evaluation evidence contributes to policy making ~ Scientific Advice, Risk and Evidence Based Policy Making ~ BIS: The role of evaluation in evidence-based decision making ~ The Guidelines on Scientific Analysis in Policy Making ~ Guidelines on the use of scientific and engineering advice in policy making ~ Government Office for Science (GO-Science) ~ Risk and Regulation Advisory Council (RRAC)

CSJNot so Happy Families - Britain’s levels of births outside marriage are at the highest point for at least 200 years, according to a major new study of the history of the family from a leading think-tank.  

The latest report, published by the independent think-tank the Centre for Social Justice, refutes claims by some academics & campaigners that there is nothing new about contemporary levels of family breakdown.

The inquiry finds that births outside marriage were at low levels throughout the 19th Century and stayed flat until the 1960s.  But since then they have soared, from a long-standing baseline of 5% to 45% today.  

Research shows that children brought up by lone parents on average do much less well than those brought up by 2 parents. For instance, they are 75% more likely to fail at school and 50% more likely to have alcohol problems.  
Cohabitation levels have also soared from under 5% pre-1945 to 90% today.  Separate studies have also shown that cohabiting couples with children are far less stable than married couples with children.  
Press release ~ Full report: History and Family: Setting the Records Straight. A rebuttal to the British Academy pamphlet Happy families? ~ British Academy pamphlet Happy families? ~ CSJ: Family webpage ~ Family breakdown in the UK – It’s NOT about divorce ~ Birth Cohort Facility Project ~ Disruptions in family and work life: Implications for support in later life ~ National Family Week ~ Directgov: Divorce, separation and relationship breakdown

NOThere can be no ‘closure’ without acceptance of responsibility, otherwise the same mistake(s) will probably happen again - Several signatory organisations (see press release for logos) have agreed with the Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman that; ‘there is a clear need for meaningful, comparable complaints information which can be used to help drive improvement in healthcare and strengthen the quality of services for patients and the public’. 

This information can contribute significantly to enhanced patient experience & enduring service improvement.
Press release & links ~ NHS Information Centre - complaints ~ Listening and Learning: the Ombudsman's review of complaint handling by the NHS in England 2009-10 ~ LGO: Complaints about adult social care ~ Sharing and Publishing Information about Complaints ~ Small mistakes, big consequences ~ Spotlight on complaints 2009: A report on second-stage complaints about the NHS in England ~ CQC: Complain about the NHS ~ Ombudsman's Principles of: Good Administration - Good Complaint Handling - Remedy ~ Injustice in Residential care: A joint report by the Local Government Ombudsman and the Health Service Ombudsman for England ~ CQC: Learning from investigations ~ Essence of care: benchmarks for the care environment ~ National Patient Safety Agency  ~ Safety first: a report for patients, clinicians and healthcare managers, DH, December 2006 ~ DH – Patient Safety ~ Complaint against Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales and the Welsh Assembly Government ~ Public services ombudsman for wales report published

PC&PEToo big to function properly - Splitting Ofsted into two new organisations - the Inspectorate for Education and the Inspectorate for Children’s Care - will help to focus & improve inspection in this country, concludes the House of Commons Education Committee.

The committee says a single children's inspectorate is too big to function effectively and needs greater elements of specialism to give people increased confidence in inspections.
Press release & links ~ Ofsted response

TfL:  And finally, the Mayor of London aims to be flying high in election year - The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has confirmed work will start this summer on a cable car across the Thames helping to boost the ongoing regeneration of east London.  The cable car will span the Thames, ‘providing a low-emission, quick, direct & fully accessible link connecting the Greenwich Peninsula and the O2 with the Royal Victoria Docks and the ExCeL’.  

It will provide a much-needed river crossing in this area, cutting travel times to 5 minutes.  It is close to London City Airport and will complement the planned £15bn Crossrail project later this decade which will connect Heathrow to the West End, The City, Canary Wharf and east London.  

Stretching 1.1km across the River Thames and with 34 gondola cabins operating, the cable car will have the capacity to carry up to 2,500 people per hour and it is anticipated 2m passengers per year.

It will be fully accessible and will be designed so it can be used by those with reduced mobility (including wheelchair users and people with pushchairs); in addition bicycles will be allowed onto the link.  

TfL is striving to deliver the scheme before the London Olympic & Paralympic Games, although this remains a challenging timeline for a complex project.
Press release & links ~ Simulation of aerial fly-through (slow to buffer)

Forthcoming event: - The Coalition One Year OnThursday, 12th May, Institute for Government, London - To coincide with the launch of its major new report ‘The Coalition One Year On’, the Institute for Government are holding an event to discuss the Coalition's first year and the challenges that lie ahead.
The report will pull together our analysis of how the coalition has performed, what lessons have been learnt and what are the most critical challenges on the horizon.

The Panel:
Nick Boles - Conservative MP for Grantham and Stamford , founder of Policy Exchange, Institute for Government Fellow
Lord (Jim) Wallace of Tankerness - Advocate General, former Deputy First Minister of during the Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition
Will Straw - Associate Director for Strategic Development at ippr, and founder of Left Foot Forward
Peter Riddell - Institute for Government Senior Fellow, Chair of the Hansard Society

The event will be chaired by Andrew Adonis, Director of the Institute for Government.

Click here to find out more and to register.

Please choose from the links below to view individual sections of interest: