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HM Government: Policy Review

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the Government having the Policy Review?

The Policy Review is about taking a broad look at the challenges for the UK in the next 10 years and beyond. It is important to start doing this now.

Why is it being led by the Cabinet Office and not 10 Downing Street or the relevant Department?

The Policy Review is being led by two Cabinet Office Ministers: Pat McFadden and Ed Miliband. This is a cross-departmental initiative, recognising that the fundamental issues that need to be considered do not necessarily fit easily within the departmental boundaries of government.

Why is it being led by two junior Ministers?

The two Cabinet Office Ministers who are leading the Policy Review have been tasked with this by the Prime Minister who is very strongly supportive of the initiative. Both ministers have considerable experience on supporting policy developments in Whitehall, in previous roles they were special advisers to the PM and Chancellor.

Who is on the working groups?

There are working groups on each of the following subjects:

The membership of the working groups is listed at

How will the public be engaged in the Policy Review?

We have established a public engagement strand of the Policy Review, giving a representative group of the population the opportunity to engage in discussing key issues emerging from the Public Services strand of the policy review. Five regional Citizens Forums will be held in February 2007, feeding into a Citizens Summit in March.

Why involve the public in this way?

Whilst the main focus of the Policy Review is on engaging the policy community, the nature of the questions on public services are so integral to the daily experiences and life chances of individuals that these questions need to be considered and debated by the public more directly. Technology, higher living standards and our daily experiences as consumers in the high street, supermarket and on the internet mean we increasingly view ourselves as 'customers' of public services with the right to expect and demand high standards.

How will people be selected for the public engagement strand?

Ipsos MORI have been engaged to manage the recruitment process and to organise the Citizens Forums. They will select a group of 100 people from all walks of life to be representative of the population, based on good practice in market research, achieving a geographical and demographic spread.

Why are only 100 people being involved in this process?

This number will give us a cost effective way of engaging with a representative group of the population, allowing us to use a deliberative approach that produces a more informed approach to key questions. We will offer other routes for engaging with the process through interactive approaches, including webchats with Ministers and online seminars. The exercise is designed to provide insights into why people hold particular views and probe these in depth it does not seek to "measure" how many people in the population hold these views.

What is deliberative consultation?

This approach to research is focused on engaging people in a dialogue rather than taking a snapshot of their opinions. It involves people more fully in the processes of research, ensuring that results reflect their concerns; participants are involved in creating and exploring different options and get them involved in or ultimately responsible for decision making.

Is this a new approach for Government

No; several major recent Government consultations have been based around deliberative techniques, including the Department of Health's Our Health "Our Care Our Say" White Paper on community services, and the Department for Work and Pension's national pensions debate.

How can other people make their views know?

The Citizens Forums and Summit (March 2007) have been designed to provide in depth social research outcomes, and will therefore be restricted to the selected participants who will be selected to form a cross section of the British population, by Ipsos MORI working to a rigorous specification to ensure broad representativeness. However, members of the public can make contributions in a number of other ways: a series of webchats involving key Ministers will take place on the themes of the Policy Review via the Number 10 website [External website]; DirectGov [External website] and the Number 10 websites public petitions sections [External website] both provide a route for members of the public to make their views known; and the online feedback form on this site. A series of interactive seminars will also be held for a range of stakeholders to contribute to the debates.

How much will the Policy Review cost?

This website has been developed using in-house resources. There are no additional costs other than for some planned virtual seminars which will cost approximately £10,000 in total. The work of the Policy Review is being carried out in 10 Downing Street and the Cabinet Office using existing staff and resources. Ipsos MORI have been commissioned to run the public engagement process, at a cost of £90,000. This contract was agreed after a competitive pitch process.

What will be the outcome of the Policy Review?

The Policy Review is a process of engagement to raise and debate the issues. There are no specific decisions that the Policy Review will make, but its conclusions will feed into a range of different Government business ranging from the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review, PSA targets, White Papers, and the budget.

Will any new money be available to those areas identified by the Policy Review as a priority?

The Policy Review will inform the decisions and priorities of the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review.

How does this fit with other government initiatives eg. NHS Reform?

They are complementary and both will feed into each other.

Which individuals and organisations are involved in the Policy Review and how were they chosen?

The Policy Review will engage with key stakeholders around the six themes. They were chosen according to their prominence and influence in the relevant policy area.

Why are other political parties not being included in the Policy Review?

This is a process conducted by this Government. It is not intended to try to develop a cross-party consensus on key issues, though its work is intended to inform future policy choices whatever the political complexion of the government.

What information on the Policy Review will be made public?

More information will be published on this site as appropriate but full details of discussions will not be made public to ensure a free and frank debate.

Why does it focus on general issues and not specific policy choices?

The Policy Review aims at providing a longer-term view that can step away from the immediate pressures of decision-making.

How will the Policy Review be affected by the change of Prime Minister later in 2007?

The Policy Review will be a short and intensive process of 2-3 months. It is an initiative that has been discussed in Cabinet and has the endorsement of all Ministers.