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HM Government: Policy Review

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Building on progress

The Policy Review, announced by the Prime Minister in October 2006, has been one of the most ambitious and demanding exercises ever conducted within Government.

A world where change is faster, more far-reaching and global than ever sets big challenges for all Governments and all organisations. Britain – with a stable economy, fine universities, a well-educated population and improving public services – is better placed than most countries to succeed in the modern world. But continued success depends upon identifying long-term trends and new challenges and examining how existing policies need to be changed to continue to meet the country's priorities.

Since the review was announced, it has touched on virtually all areas of policy. It has involved the entire government – both Cabinet and Ministers outside of Cabinet; and pioneered the use of deliberative forums (bringing together a representative sample of the public to policy choices in detail) at the highest levels of government.

The scale of activity conducted across Government as part of the Policy Review illustrates the comprehensive nature of the process:

It has been an innovative process that has been unique in creating a space where Ministers have engaged in thinking through issues beyond the immediate daily concerns of their Departments; considering what has worked (and what has not); what should be intensified; and what new directions should be pursued.

Though deliberately low profile and sober; it has provided a space for government to 'know its mind', flushing out and working through differences in opinion and new questions – setting the agenda and wheels turning across Whitehall.

The scale of involvement of all Ministers in this way is unprecedented. Ministers came to meetings largely without Departmental briefs, and were encouraged to think about cross-cutting issues.

The Policy Review has now concluded and outputs from the process have been published in a series of papers under the title Building on Progress.

Energy and environment

This paper, focusing on Energy and environment, was published on 5th June 2007.

The paper draws together the twin challenges of energy security and climate change and shows why we must consider these problems together rather than separately.

The paper outlines a comprehensive policy framework for achieving our energy security and climate change goals which includes:

It also outlines the role that individuals, businesses, communities and government will have in addressing these twin challenges. It emphasises the importance of agreements at European and international level but also that the strength of the UK's position is based on its domestic performance.

The role of the state

The fourth paper, focusing on the Role of the State, was published on 16th May 2007. It introduces the idea of the strategic and enabling state, as a response to the continuing evolution of global and domestic trends. By doing this the documents seeks to avoid the pitfalls of the big v small state argument and instead looks at how to reinvent effective state power for the current age.

The paper sets out the six key features of the strategic and enabling state:

The ultimate purpose of the strategic and enabling state is to redistribute power to people.


This paper is one of several strands from the work of the policy review and was published on 16 May 2007. It recognises the important role families have to play in society, whatever their structure. The Government also recognises:

The vision set out is to:

This paper, like others already published, will feed into Government policy over the coming decade.

Britain in the World

The third paper, on Britain in the World, was published on 17 April 2007. It outlines the challenges ahead for a rapidly globalised world. The paper sets out how Britain's interests can be best served working together with shared progressive values and in a world where governments work peacefully within international law. The paper explains Britain's policy in the world today, what is different about today and why it is the right way forward.

One hundred years ago Britain still had an empire and had influence and power on its own. In 2007 Britain still has influence and power but now has to:

Security, Crime and Justice

The second paper, on Security, Crime and Justice, was published on 27 March 2007. It outlines the progress in tackling crime and its causes, but highlights the rapid changes affecting society which impact on crime, security and cohesion.

The paper argues that to ensure that demands from citizens for an improved sense of security can be met, continued reform is needed based on three main elements:

Public Services

The first paper, published on 19 March 2007 focuses on Public Services. It sets out a vision for the future of public services based on three key principles:

It recognises the success so far of the Government in moving towards the personalising of services but sets out ideas around how this process can be completed over the next ten years.