Centre for Policy Studies

Coordinates: 51°29′46″N 0°07′42″W / 51.4961°N 0.1283°W / 51.4961; -0.1283
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Centre for Policy Studies
Formation1974; 50 years ago (1974)
TypePublic policy think tank
Headquarters57 Tufton Street
Coordinates51°29′46″N 0°07′42″W / 51.4961°N 0.1283°W / 51.4961; -0.1283
Michael Spencer
Robert Colvile
Keith Joseph
Margaret Thatcher

The Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) is a centre-right think tank and advocacy group in the United Kingdom. Its goal is to promote coherent and practical policies based on its founding principles of: free markets, "small state," low tax, national independence, self determination and responsibility.[1] While being independent, the centre has historical links to the Conservative Party.

It was co-founded by Sir Keith Joseph, Alfred Sherman and Margaret Thatcher[2] in 1974 to challenge the post war consensus of Keynesianism, and to champion economic liberalism in Britain.[1] With this in mind Keith Joseph originally wanted the think tank to study the social market economy, naming it the 'Ludwig Erhard Foundation' and 'Institute for a social market economy' until it was eventually settled on the benign 'Centre for Policy Studies'.[3][4]

The centre has since played a global role in the dissemination of free market economics alongside policy proposals claimed to be on the basis of responsibility and individual choice. It also asserts that it prioritises the concepts of duty, family, liberty, and the rule of law. The CPS states that it has a goal of serving as "the champion of the small state."[1]


The CPS sought reassessment of Conservative economic policy during the period in opposition from 1974 to 1979. The CPS released reports such as Stranded on the Middle Ground? Reflections on Circumstances and Policies[5] and Monetarism is Not Enough[6] (1974 and 1976). Monetarism is Not Enough was described by Margaret Thatcher as “one of the very few speeches which have fundamentally affected a political generation's way of thinking.".[7] Keith Joseph's keynote speeches, also published by the CPS, aimed to lead the way in changing the climate of opinion in Britain and set the intellectual foundations for the privatisation reforms of the 1980s. In 1981 Sherman brought the Swiss monetarist Jurg Niehans over to Britain to advise on economic management. Niehans wrote a report critical of the government's economic management that was crucial in influencing the change of policy in the 1981 budget; this tightened the government's fiscal stance to make possible a looser monetary policy.[2] However Hugh Thomas, who had been appointed Chairman of the CPS in 1979 found Sherman impossible to work with. In the summer of 1983, following a row over the relationship of the CPS with the Conservative Party, Sherman was summarily sacked from the CPS in a "virulent" letter from Thomas.[2]

The CPS did not consciously represent itself as a partisan institute; ‘blame’ for the collectivist post-war consensus was placed on both sides of the political parties for operating within the same ideological framework. The CPS continually advocated a liberal economic approach and was hugely influential during Margaret Thatcher's administration, operating as a key driving force towards her hallmark policies of privatisation, deregulation and monetarism[8]

In her own words, its job was to 'expose the follies and self-defeating consequences of government intervention....'to think the unthinkable'.[9] In 1982, it released Telecommunications in Britain,[10] which urged the Government to embrace a fuller agenda of privatization in the telecoms sector. The paper recommended the privatization of British Telecom and the introduction of competition to the sector –both of which were implemented. Another key publication was The Performance of the Privatised Industries (1996) – a four volume statistical analysis which showed how the privatization agenda had benefitted the consumer by ushering in lower prices and higher quality service. It argued that the taxpayer had benefitted greatly from privatisation – not just from the initial windfall from receipts, but also from higher tax revenues than had ever been received from the same companies when they were in state ownership.

According to the 2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report (Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, University of Pennsylvania), CPS is number 89 (of 150) in the "Top Think Tanks Worldwide (U.S. and non-U.S.)" and number 69 (of 80) in the "Top Think Tanks in Western Europe".[11]


Think tank Transparify, which is funded by the Open Society Foundations, ranked the CPS as one of the four least transparent think tanks in the UK in relation to funding. Transparify's report How Transparent are Think Tanks about Who Funds Them 2016? rated them as 'highly opaque,' one of 'a handful of think tanks that refuse to reveal even the identities of their donors.[12]

In November 2022, the funding transparency website Who Funds You? gave the CPS an E grade, the lowest transparency rating (rating goes from A to E).[13]


In 2009, the CPS celebrated its 35th anniversary for which the Leader of the Opposition, David Cameron MP, gave a speech highlighting the role the CPS played in the Conservative Party's victory in the 1979 election crediting them with ‘a great rebirth of intellectual ideas, of intellectual vigour, and of intellectual leadership’[14]


In September 2011 the CPS published Guilty Men by Peter Oborne and Frances Weaver.[15] The report sought to identify the politicians, institutions and commentators who the authors felt had tried to take Britain into the European single currency and claims to expose attacks carried out by the Euro supporters. Oborne particularly identifies William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and Lord Owen as three voices of opposition to early Euro entry that suffered personal attacks from these sources.

In October 2011, Andrew Tyrie MP's After the Age of Abundance influenced the Chancellor's conference speech and subsequent Treasury policy.[16]

Dominic Raab MP's November 2011 paper Escaping the Strait Jacket called for the number one economic and social priority for the Coalition beyond deficit reduction to be to encourage job creation. He called for 10 employment regulation reforms, including excluding small businesses from a range of regulations and creating a new 'no fault dismissal', recommendations that have found much support in the Conservative Party.

'How to Cut Corporation Tax' by David Martin and Taxing Mansions: the taxation of high value property by Lucian Cook were published prior to the Budget 2012 and respectively made arguments for a lower rate of corporation tax and against the proposed 'mansion tax'.

George Trefgarne's 'Metroboom: lessons from Britain's recovery in the 1930s' sought to revise the perception of the decade as universally destitute, a view attributed to Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls.[17] Trefgarne presented a BBC Daily Politics Soapbox piece on the recovery experienced under the National Government of the time.[18]

In May 2012, Ryan Bourne and Thomas Oechsle published Small is a Best, a report claiming that economies with small governments tend to grow faster than those with big governments.[19]

In June 2012, the CPS published Tim Morgan's The Quest for Change and Renewal. Morgan says the paper in on how to "... rescue capitalism and re-empower the individual to a build a winning centre-right ideology ...".[citation needed]


CapX was founded by the CPS on 21 June 2014 in collaboration with Signal Media.[20]


Economy – The CPS ‘believes in regulation that does not inhibit the growth of business, taxes that do not act as a disincentive to work or to investment in the UK, and a leaner more effective state that avoids unnecessary intervention in the economy’.[21]

Family – The CPS advocates that fiscal policy should be reformed to support marriage through the tax system and to remove the welfare penalty on two-parent families. State intervention in family life should focus on protection of vulnerable children; it should not extend to managing their day-to-day lives and removing responsibility and judgment from parents.[22]

Energy – Recent CPS publications have argued that the UK must develop its nuclear, clean coal (including coal gasification) and efficient renewable supplies of energy.[23]

Public Services – The CPS has been a consistent advocate for greater choice and diversity of provision, opening up state monopolies to new providers and putting greater power and responsibility in the hands of parents and patients.[24]

Drugs – The CPS’ Prison and Addiction forum (PANDA) was set up in 2008. It provides an independent forum of debate about drugs policy for academics, practitioners, psychiatrists, and specialist commentators. Its aim is to identify the reforms required in the UK to get our drug problem under control, to prevent drug use and to offer substance abusers the help and necessary care to combat their abuse.[25]

Broadcasting – The CPS believes that public intervention should be focussed on where there is genuine 'market failure' and the remit and funding of the BBC should reflect this.[14]


Notable Research Fellows[edit]

Notable Advisory Council members[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Andrew Denham and Mark Garnett Keith Joseph (Chesham 2001), p. 240
  2. ^ a b c "Sir Alfred Sherman". The Daily Telegraph. 28 August 2006. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  3. ^ "Why is Labour still so obsessed with the German model?". Politics.co.uk. 6 November 2015. Archived from the original on 31 July 2018. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  4. ^ "Why Britain Needs A Social Market Economy". www.cps.org.uk.
  5. ^ "Stranded on the Middle Ground? Reflections on Circumstances and Policies". www.cps.org.uk.
  6. ^ "Monetarism is not Enough". www.cps.org.uk.
  7. ^ Margaret Thatcher The Path to Power (London 1995), p. 255
  8. ^ Richard Cockett Thinking the Unthinkable (London 1994), pp. 243–320
  9. ^ Margaret Thatcher The Path to Power (London 1995), p. 253
  10. ^ "Telecommunications in Britain: Switching Direction". www.cps.org.uk.
  11. ^ James G. McGann (Director) (4 February 2015). "2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report". Retrieved 14 February 2015. Other "Top Think Tank" rankings include #43 (of 50) of Think Tanks with the Best External Relations/Public Engagement Program, #23 (of 30) for Most Innovative Policy Ideas/Proposals, and #33 (of 60) of Think Tanks with Outstanding Policy-Oriented Public Programs.
  12. ^ "How transparent are think tanks about who funds them 2016?" (PDF). Transparify. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  13. ^ "Who Funds You? Centre for Policy Studies".
  14. ^ a b "Welcome". www.cps.org.uk.
  15. ^ "Centre for policy studies". Archived from the original on 7 October 2011. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
  16. ^ "After the Age of Abundance". www.cps.org.uk.
  17. ^ "Ed Balls warns of '1930s mistake' after Moody's move". The Daily Telegraph. 14 February 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  18. ^ "George Trefgarne on economic lessons from Chamberlain". BBC News. 23 May 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  19. ^ "Small is Best". www.cps.org.uk.
  20. ^ "In the online battle of ideas, capitalism must go on the attack". The Daily Telegraph. 3 May 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
  21. ^ "Welcome". www.cps.org.uk. Archived from the original on 12 August 2009.
  22. ^ "Welcome". www.cps.org.uk. Archived from the original on 12 August 2009.
  23. ^ "Welcome". www.cps.org.uk. Archived from the original on 12 August 2009.
  24. ^ "Welcome". www.cps.org.uk. Archived from the original on 12 August 2009.
  25. ^ "Welcome". www.cps.org.uk. Archived from the original on 12 August 2009.
  26. ^ "Robert Colvile". Retrieved 15 October 2018.
  27. ^ Statesman, New (27 September 2023). "The New Statesman's right power list". New Statesman. Retrieved 14 December 2023.
  28. ^ "Tom Clougherty". cps.org.uk. Retrieved 14 March 2019.

External links[edit]