A think-tank paper said that debates about the cost of living in the United Kingdom were being distorted by misinformation in policy areas such as housing, energy, food, childcare, taxes, and welfare, and that these errors were being repeated in the media and in parliament. It said that the policy responses of the political parties sought to treat the symptoms of problems, rather than addressing the underlying causes, and ignored the structural impact of existing government policies. The paper outlined some of the key affected arguments.
Source: Ryan Bourne and Kristian Niemietz, Smoking Out Red Herrings: The cost of living debate, Institute of Economic Affairs
An article examined which of two competing models of the policy process – the 'differentiated polity' (DPM) and 'asymmetric power' (APM) models – better described the formulation of the National Health Service plan by the former Labour government. The process of developing the plan had showed signs of a more open policy process, seemingly closer to the DPM. However, the process was tightly controlled and personally led by the Secretary of State and his advisers, with the direct involvement of the Prime Minister throughout. Overall, the article concluded that the APM better described the reality of major reform policy-making under New Labour.
Source: Arturo Alvarez-Rosete and Nicholas Mays, 'Understanding NHS policy making in England: the formulation of the NHS Plan, 2000', British Journal of Politics and International Relations, Volume 16 Issue 4
An article examined the network governance approach in public policy and administration in England. Drawing on case studies of economic development and affordable housing provision, it said there was little evidence for a paradigm shift and that bureaucratic and hierarchical structures, and centralised power, remained evident, with policy change driven or constrained by the interests of politicians and the influence of business. The article proposed an alternative framework for the study of public administration and management.
Source: Martin Laffin, John Mawson, and Christianne Ormston, 'Public services in a "postdemocratic age": an alternative framework to network governance', Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Volume 32 Number 4
A special issue of a journal examined social theories of risk and uncertainty, and concerns regarding the legitimacy of risks and/or policies oriented to risk.
Source: Health, Risk & Society, Volume 16 Issue 5
Links: Table of contents
Notes: Articles included:
Hazel Kemshall, 'Conflicting rationalities of risk: disputing risk in social policy ï¿½ reflecting on 35 years of researching risk'
Anna Olofsson, Jens Zinn, Gabriele Griffin, Katarina Giritli Nygren, Andreas Cebulla, and Kelly Hannah-Moffat, 'The mutual constitution of risk and inequalities: intersectional risk theory'
Benjamin Hadis, 'Risk, social protection and trust amidst cuts in welfare spending'
A report provided an overview of findings and lessons learned from four in-depth case studies of policy implementation in areas of social justice: the London and City Challenges (school improvement programmes); the 2001 Fuel Poverty Strategy (a commitment to end fuel poverty by 2016, which focused on improving energy efficiency for vulnerable households); Sure Start Children's Centres (the expansion of a targeted local programme to enhance the life-chances of disadvantaged children); and auto-enrolment in pensions (policy to boost private savings for pensions by requiring all United Kingdom employers automatically to enrol their staff into a workplace pension). Individual reports for the four policies were also published.
Source: Emma Norris, Marc Kidson, Petr Bouchal, and Jill Rutter, Doing Them Justice: Lessons from four cases of policy implementation, Institute for Government
An article examined the literature on evidence-based policy-making, and considered the barriers and facilitators to using evidence to inform policy. The article described the literature in terms of its theoretical underpinnings, definitions of 'evidence', methods, and underlying assumptions of research in the field. It said that assumptions that policy-makers did not use evidence were unsupported and created bias in research on evidence-based policy. It said that academics should aim to understand what influenced and constituted policy, and should produce more critically and theoretically informed studies of decision-making.
Source: Kathryn Oliver, Theo Lorenc, and Simon Innvaer, 'New directions in evidence-based policy research: a critical analysis of the literature', Health Research Policy and Systems, Volume 12
A paper examined the United Kingdom government's review of the competences of the European Union. The paper focused on the second set of reviews published by the government, which covered the single market for goods, external trade, transport policy, environment, climate change, research, asylum, non-European Union immigration, civil judicial co-operation, tourism, culture and sport. It said that the European Union had shown the United Kingdom flexibility in agreeing special arrangements in some areas, while in others there was a good fit between United Kingdom priorities and European Union policies, and said there was little or no case for repatriation of European Union competences at the level they were defined in the treaties.
Source: Michael Emerson, Steven Blockmans, Steve Peers, and Michael Wriglesworth, British Balance of Competence Reviews, Part II: Again, a huge contradiction between the evidence and Eurosceptic populism, European Policy Institutes Network
An article examined localized forms of social innovation in social policy and welfare services, drawing on findings from the European Union project Welfare Innovations at the Local Level in Favour of Cohesion. The project had examined social innovations in twenty European cities (including Birmingham and Dover in the United Kingdom). The article said that features of local innovations examined in the study might be significant for welfare systems, but this would depend on the development of greater shared understanding.
Source: Benjamin Ewert and Adalbert Evers, 'Blueprints for the future of welfare provision? Shared features of service innovations across Europe', Social Policy and Society, Volume 13 Issue 3
An article examined the concept of social innovation for the purposes of policy development.
Source: Carlo Borzaga and Riccardo Bodini, 'What to make of social innovation? Towards a framework for policy development', Social Policy and Society, Volume 13 Issue 3
An article examined the role of communication in policy transfer and translation, through an examination of congestion charge translation in Greater Manchester, England, and Stockholm, Sweden.
Source: Chisung Park, Mark Wilding, and Changho Chung, 'The importance of feedback: policy transfer, translation and the role of communication', Policy Studies, Volume 35 Number 4
The Queen's Speech set out the United Kingdom coalition government's legislative programme for 2014-15. It included plans for:
A Childcare Payments Bill to introduce a scheme providing working families with tax reliefs on qualifying childcare costs, up to a maximum of £2,000 per year for each child.
A Pensions Tax Bill and Private Pensions Bill to introduce wider choice in the private pensions market, and to provide individuals with choice in how they accessed their pension benefits.
A Modern Slavery Bill to consolidate and strengthen existing powers to prevent modern slavery and human trafficking, improve support for those harmed, increase maximum sentences, enable courts to order financial redress for victims, introduce prevention and risk orders to restrict the activity of individuals who posed a risk of harm, and create a new anti-slavery commissioner.
A Serious Crime Bill to: strengthen the powers of the police to prevent serious and organized crime; improve the ability to recover criminal assets; extend the extra-territorial reach of legislation relating to female genital mutilation; allow certain suspected terrorism preparation offences that were committed overseas to be prosecuted in the United Kingdom; and make explicit the offence of cruelty likely to cause psychological harm to a child.
A Recall of MPs Bill to establish a recall mechanism giving constituents the opportunity to sign an petition to trigger a by-election if a member of the UK parliament was imprisoned for less than 12 months following a criminal conviction in the UK, or if the House of Commons resolved that an MP should face a recall petition.
Five Bills would be carried over from the previous session, including the Wales Bill and the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill.
Source: Queen's Speech, 4 June 2014, columns 1-4, House of Commons Hansard, TSO
Links: Hansard | Prime Ministers Office briefing | Cabinet Office guidance | PMO/DPMO press release | Northern Ireland Office press release | Scotland Office press release | Wales Office press release | IEA press release | Scottish Government press release | SNP press release | StepChange press release | TUC press release | BBC report 1 | BBC report 2 | Guardian report 1 | Guardian report 2 | Public Finance report | Telegraph report
A new book examined the place of knowledge in contemporary policymaking in Europe, presenting empirical case studies of health and education policy in different national and international contexts.
Source: Richard Freeman and Steve Sturdy, Knowledge in Policy: Embodied, inscribed, enacted, Policy Press
A study examined how senior civil servants related to academic research and expertise, drawing on an online survey that asked about how they accessed and used such information and what impact this had on policymaking. The report said that the majority of senior civil servants actively engaged with academic outputs, although many did so in limited ways and a significant minority did not engage at all. They reported turning to briefings or reports (79 per cent), or media reports of academic outputs in newspapers and weeklies (61 per cent), or professional journals (55 per cent), in disciplines such as public policy (63 per cent), economics (60 per cent), public administration (54 per cent) and business and management (49 per cent). Senior civil servants also welcomed general expertise and were positive about academics' roles in the policy process.
Source: Colin Talbot and Carole Talbot, Sir Humphrey and the Professors: What does Whitehall want from academics?, Policy@Manchester, University of Manchester
The Council of Europe published its gender equality strategy. The strategy had five objectives: to combat gender stereotypes and sexism; to prevent and combat violence against women; to guarantee equal access to justice; to achieve balance in the participation of women and men in political and public decision-making; and to achieve gender mainstreaming in all policies and measures.
Source: Council of Europe Gender Equality Strategy 2014-2017, Council of Europe
A report examined the work of the Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committee in contributing to the effective implementation of gender mainstreaming in the committees and delegations of the European parliament.
Source: Manuela Samek Lodovici, Flavia Pesce, Davide Barbieri, Daniela Loi, Erica Melloni, and Cristina Vasilescu, Gender Mainstreaming in Committees and Delegations of the European Parliament, European Parliament
A statement was released to confirm that, following the conclusion of research and a public consultation, the Board of the UK Statistics Authority had accepted the recommendation of the National Statistician for the 2021 census to be conducted predominantly online, supplemented by the further use of administrative and survey data. The matter would now rest with the government and parliament, to determine the arrangements for future census-taking in England and Wales.
Source: The Census and Future Provision of Population Statistics in England and Wales, UK Statistics Authority
A special issue of a journal examined the role and value of qualitative research in informing evidence-based policy making.
Source: Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, Volume 27 Number 1
Links: Table of contents
Notes: Articles included:
Will Thomas and Sue Hollinrake, 'Policy-makers, researchers and service users – resolving the tensions and dilemmas of working together'
Fran Bennett and Sirin Sung, 'Money matters: using qualitative research for policy influencing on gender and welfare reform'
Derek Birrell, 'Qualitative research and policy-making in Northern Ireland: barriers arising from the lack of consensus, capacity and conceptualization'>
An article examined the relationship between 'nudge-based' approaches and behavioural economics and psychology. The author advocated a more explicitly political, social-democratic model of the behaviour change state: this would be more attuned to the socio-economic context of behaviour, and also be prepared to defend citizens against ubiquitous attempts to shape their subjectivity.
Source: Will Leggett, 'The politics of behaviour change: nudge, neoliberalism and the state', Policy & Politics, Volume 42 Number 1
An article developed an ethnographic account of the recent enthusiasm for behaviour change in public policy. An anthropological perspective explained the emergence of behaviour change as a set of ideas, people, organizations, events, and happenings: not only as a sometimes contradictory policy 'agenda', but also as a diverse and novel industry or cadre of expertise that was played out in geographical ways. The particularities of behaviour change policies was said to pose new challenges to anthropological approaches to the state.
Source: Rhys Jones, Jessica Pykett, and Mark Whitehead, 'Behaviour change policies in the UK: an anthropological perspective', Geoforum, Volume 49
An article examined the use of evidence by policy-makers, updating an earlier systematic review on the topic. The article said that the most important factors in influencing use of evidence were: timely access to research evidence of appropriate relevance and quality; collaborations with policymakers; and relationship- and skills-building with policymakers. It noted that empirical data about policy processes or implementation were not widely available, and made recommendations for future research and policy.
Source: Kathryn Oliver, Simon Innvar, Theo Lorenc, Jenny Woodman, and James Thomas, 'A systematic review of barriers to and facilitators of the use of evidence by policymakers', BMC Health Services Research, Volume 14 Issue 2
An article examined the growing interest in outcome-based social policy-making. It highlighted the importance of the attribution problem – how to attribute changes in outcomes to specific social policies. A 'cause-and-effect' policy modelling approach could partially tackle the attribution problem, but had inherent limitations: it was inappropriate in certain fields, given the existing state of knowledge of social policy systems.
Source: Tony Bovaird, 'Attributing outcomes to social policy interventions – "gold standard" or "fool's gold" in public policy and management?', Social Policy and Administration, Volume 48 Number 1