Institute for Public Policy Research

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Institute for Public Policy Research
IPPR logo.png
Type Progressive think tank
Headquarters 14 Buckingham Street, WC2N 6DF
Director Nick Pearce

IPPR (the Institute for Public Policy Research) is a progressive thinktank based in the UK. It was founded in 1988 and is an independent registered charity. It produces conducts and publishes research into, and promotes public education in, the economic, social and political sciences, and in science and technology; including the effect of moral, social, political and scientific factors on public policy and on the living standards of all sections of the community.

The founding director was James Cornford.[1] The current director is Nick Pearce,[2] a former Head of the No. 10 Policy Unit and special advisor to David Blunkett MP. Former members of staff include the current pensions minister Liberal Democrat MP Steve Webb, former director of strategy to Nick Clegg Richard Reeves,[disambiguation needed] Dr Ian Kearns and former Labour cabinet ministers Patricia Hewitt and David Miliband.

The Institute edits a quarterly journal called Juncture (formerly PPR and New Economy), published by Wiley-Blackwell, which features articles from academics and politicians.

IPPR is based in London and IPPR North has branches in Newcastle and Manchester. The organisation is an independent registered charity. Funding comes from the following:[3]

  • trust and foundation grants
  • European and international funds
  • central and local government funding
  • corporate, public sector and voluntary sector support
  • individual donors

Aims and objectives[edit]

IPPR's current research is focused around three priority areas:

  • Combining fiscal realism with a plan for deep reform of British capitalism

There are significant long-term pressures on the UK's public finances which require priorities to be set for spending, new sources of revenue to be found, and new fiscal rules. Allied to these tasks must be a strategy for shifting the structure and character of British capitalism that learns the lessons of the financial crisis, overcomes longstanding economic weaknesses, reforms core consumer markets and provides the basis for full employment and rising living standards.

  • Developing relational public services and a more democratic statecraft

Over-reliance on targets and markets to improve public services has become exhausted, along with trust in government. A new model of reform should be more relational, local and democratic, while not conceding on quality or value of money. Across a range of service areas, this requires a balance to be struck between a strategic state, democratic institutions, autonomous but accountable providers, world-class workforces, a vibrant civil society and empowered citizens.

  • Shaping a post-crash social politics

The narrative of 'broken Britain' and the 'big society' has itself broken down. We need an alternative account of the pressures and potential in British society today, rooted in everyday lives and experiences. This can inform a new partnership between government, society and citizens on issues ranging from family life, financial pressures, socialis committed to the following objectives:[4]

Policy areas[edit]

IPPR undertakes research in the following areas:[5]

  • Economic policy
  • Climate change, transport and energy
  • Family, community and work
  • Migration, trade and development
  • Politics and power
  • Public service reform


IPPR was the brainchild of Clive Hollick, who developed the idea for an independent progressive thinktank in 1986. With John Eatwell, Lord Hollick spent two years establishing the institute, which was publicly launched in 1988 with Tessa Blackstone as its first chair and the late James Cornford as its first director. IPPR was established as a charity with educational objectives, and from the beginning has involved trustees from varied political backgrounds.

One of its first reports recommended congestion charging for London and since then IPPR has been having real impact on policy at a national and local level ever since.

In the early 1990s, we published the highly influential report of the Commission on Social Justice, chaired by Sir Gordon Borrie and IPPR’s then deputy director, Patricia Hewitt. It laid out an ambitious agenda of social policy reform that had a lasting impact on public policy debates.

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, IPPR led thinking on devolution, elected mayors, family-friendly working, asset-based welfare, and public service reform. IPPR North was established in 2004, with an office opening in Newcastle; a second office was opened in Manchester in 2012.

IPPR was the winner of the prestigious Prospect Think Tank of the Year award in 2001 and in 2007 became the first repeat winner.

Among the notable achievements of the late 2000s was the highly influential Commission on National Security for the 21st Century, chaired by Paddy Ashdown and George Robertson.

In 2009, IPPR turned 21 and won the Green Thinktank of the year award for its groundbreaking work on climate change.

In 2010, IPPR moved to its current London offices in Buckingham Street.In 2014, IPPR won the Social Policy Thinktank of the Year award, in recognition of the wide influence achieved by its landmark report, The Condition of Britain.

Influential research[edit]

In 2005 IPPR was the first to call for limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees, a position that formed the basis for climate change negotiations at Copenhagen and elsewhere. IPPR’s work on constitutional reform included a report in 2006 on reforming the civil service to make it more accountable – this work has led directly to the reform programme now being conducted by the Coalition Government, with IPPR working on that reform. IPPR was the first recipient of the Government’s Contestable Policy Fund grant to carry out a review of civil service reform, commissioned by Cabinet Secretary Francis Maude.

One of IPPR’s biggest pieces of work in 2008 was the cross party Commission on National Security. The commission's report was described by the former chancellor, foreign secretary and deputy Prime Minister, Lord Howe as: 'the most lucid and impressive analysis of what is happening in the world I have seen, despite ten years in the Cabinet.'

One of IPPR’s major projects since the 2010 election, reflecting the extent of the UK’s housing crisis, has been our Fundamental Review of Housing Policy. Its main themes have influenced the opposition and the Conservative Mayor of London’s policy agendas. In November 2012, IPPR published Frontline: Improving the Children’s Social Work Profession which proposed a ‘Teach First’ scheme for children’s social work. Hailed as a ‘brilliant idea’ by the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, a new organisation funded by the government was given the go ahead in May 2013.

IPPR’s flagship programme on social policy, The Condition of Britain, launched with a major film on Newsnight, and was sighted by the judges in awarding IPPR the Prospect Magazine’s UK Social Policy Think Tank of the Year 2014.

IPPR’s work on closing the attainment gap in schools included calls for the Liberal Democrat proposed pupil premium to be more targeted on poorer pupils. IPPR’s higher education commission produced its report A Critical Path in April 2013.

IPPR has led the way in developing the idea of a British Investment Bank (and a network of regional banks) and IPPR’s ideas for spreading the Living Wage through ‘living wage zones’ have won all party backing.

IPPR North’s Northern Economic Future’s Commission has been influential on both government and opposition thinking and many off its recommendations have been supported by Rachel Reeves, Vince Cable and others. The report was also used by Nick Clegg in his Mansion House speech on economic decentralisation.

IPPR’s recommendation that income tax should be devolved to Scotland was adopted by all three major unionist parties.


IPPR's trustees are:[6]


  1. ^ Andrew Denham and Mark Garnett (2006) 'What works'? British think tanks and the 'end of ideology', The Political Quarterly 77(2), pp. 156-165
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ "How we are funded". Institute for Public Policy Research. Retrieved 2012-11-01. 
  4. ^ "About us". Institute for Public Policy Research. Retrieved 2012-11-01. 
  5. ^ "IPPR research themes". Institute for Public Policy Research. Retrieved 2012-11-01. 
  6. ^ "Trustees". IPPR. Retrieved 2008-06-13. 

External links[edit]