How can government in the UK recover from a more than half a decade of political chaos and confusion? What can be done to solve some of the most complex policy ... More
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Has civil service impartiality had its day?
Has civil service impartiality had its day?
Recent events in government, including the circumstances following Dominic Raab’s resignation as justice secretary, have at least on the surface deepened a divide between ministers and officials – and civil service morale has dropped as the strained relationship between ministers and officials deteriorates.
With Raab complaining of “increasingly activist civil servants” and warning that it had become “almost impossible for ministers to deliver for the British people”, there have been increasing calls to give more powers to ministers to bring their political allies into Whitehall.
So has civil service impartiality had its day? Is it time to allow more political appointments into civil service roles? What would this mean for the civil service’s ability to give good advice and effectively implement government policy? What other changes would help the civil service recruit people with the skills and specialisms that ministers want and the public need? And what else can be done to restore the fractured relationship between ministers and officials?
To explore these questions, the IfG bought together an expert panel including:
George Eustice, Conservative MP and former Environment Secretary
Ayesha Hazarika, Times Radio presenter and a former civil servant and special adviser
Lord O’Donnell, former Cabinet Secretary
Rachel Wolf, Founding Partner at Public First, a former adviser at 10 Downing Street and co-author of the Conservative Party's 2019 election manifesto
This event was chaired by Alex Thomas, Programme Director at the Institute for Government.
How can NHS procurement be improved?
The NHS spends over £30bn a year through procurement, on critical clinical services, medicines, equipment, IT, building maintenance, catering and cleaning. But does it spend this money well? During the pandemic questions were raised about value for money and transparency.
With NHS England recently creating a new central commercial function to coordinate the work of the more than 4,000 staff working on NHS procurement and supply chain, how can the NHS make the most of its collective buying power and ensure money isn’t wasted? What lessons can be learned from NHS procurement during the pandemic? How can the NHS create more resilient supply chains? What role can procurement play in tackling health inequalities and the NHS’s commitment to reach net zero by 2045? And how can the NHS take advantage of the changes proposed in the Procurement Bill?
To answer these questions, the Institute for Government convened an expert panel including:
Jacqui Rock, Chief Commercial Officer at NHS England
David Hare, Chief Executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network
Patrick Parkin, Partner at Burges Salmon
Luella Trickett, Director, Value and Access at the Association of British HealthTech Industries
The event was chaired by Nick Davies, Programme Director at the Institute for Government.
We would like to thank Burges Salmon for supporting this event.
Where next for levelling up?
A commitment to level up the country was at the forefront of the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto, but how much progress can the government make on its flagship agenda with no more than 18 months remaining until the next general election? Is substantial progress on regional inequalities possible over the next few years given the broader economic circumstances? And should this and future administrations prioritise specific aspects of the agenda, such as skills? This event, which took place shortly after the 2023 local elections were held, assessed what comes next for levelling up.
To explore these questions and more, our expert panel included:
Debbie Abrahams MP, Member of Parliament for Oldham East and Saddleworth
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester
Andy Westwood, Professor of Government Practice and Vice Dean of Humanities at The University of Manchester
Jennifer Williams, Northern England Correspondent at the Financial Times
The event was chaired by Thomas Pope, Deputy Chief Economist at the Institute for Government.
This event was kindly supported by [email protected], The University of Manchester's policy engagement unit.
What lessons should the Treasury learn from the pandemic?
HM Treasury – the UK’s economics and finance ministry – played a crucial role in the government’s response to the Covid pandemic. While the crisis was fundamentally one of public health, shutting down the country saw the government pay the wages of around a third of the workforce and spend billions supporting businesses.
So how successful were the Treasury’s policies and how well did it work with the rest of government? What lessons should the Treasury learn from its pandemic response? How can the department be better prepared to handle future crises? And what can be done to improve how the Treasury operates in normal times?
This event presented and discussed the findings of a new report from the Institute for Government which examines how the Treasury implemented labour market and business finance support schemes, delivered an unprecedented amount of support to the country at incredible speed and under huge uncertainty, and worked with other government departments during the crisis.
To explore these questions, the IfG brought together an expert panel including:
Rushanara Ali MP, Member of the Treasury Select Committee
Olly Bartrum, Senior Economist at the Institute for Government
Prof Sir Charles Bean, former member of the Budget Responsibility Committee at the Office for Budget Responsibility (2017–21)
Tracey Brown, Director of Sense about Science
Sir Charles Roxburgh, former Second Permanent Secretary of HM Treasury (2016–22)
The event was chaired by Dr Gemma Tetlow, Chief Economist at the Institute for Government.
Follow us @IfGevents and get involved in the conversation using #IfGTreasury.
Keynote speech: Stephen Flynn MP, SNP Westminster Leader
Institute for Government · Keynote speech: Stephen Flynn MP, SNP Westminster Leader
The SNP has a new leader and Scotland has a new first minister. So what does the election of Humza Yousaf mean for the Scottish government – and for the role that the SNP plays in Westminster? What does the future of the relationship between the Westminster and Holyrood governments look like and what opportunities are there for the two governments to work together? How will the SNP make the case for independence under new leadership?
To explore these questions, the Institute for Government was delighted to welcome Stephen Flynn, the SNP’s leader in Westminster, to give a keynote speech.
The event was chaired by Akash Paun, Programme Director at the Institute for Government.
Follow us @ifgevents and join the conversation using #IfGFlynn.
How can government in the UK recover from a more than half a decade of political chaos and confusion? What can be done to solve some of the most complex policy challenges in living memory? And which battlegrounds will define the fast-approaching – and critical – general election? Featuring some of the world's most innovative public figures, politicians, opinion-formers and academics, the IfG EVENTS podcast brings you the very best of the Institute for Government's agenda-shaping speeches, interviews, panel discussions and debates.
From reforming how the centre of government works to the battle for the future of the civil service, from making a success of levelling up to achieve net zero goals, IfG EVENTS stimulate fresh thinking and share ideas about how government works – and how it could work better.