Counting down to 2015 … a year in policy (part 2)

Following on from yesterday’s blog, we continue our look back at some of our favourite posts of the year and how they reflect key concerns within public and social policy …

House prices continued to rise

No political party properly grasped the nettle that is the UK’s worsening housing shortage. The garden city plans are long-term, and there is no indication that they will actually reduce demand to the extent that housing will become more affordable. Existing and proposed government schemes (such as the Starter Home initiative announced last week) have been criticised for assisting individuals while failing to tackle systemic failures in the approach to ensuring availability of social housing and affordable housing.

What’s all the fuss about housing affordability?

Universal Credit and housing benefit: facing up to the challenge of change

A local crisis? Local authorities and the housing crisis


Town centres became the focus of regeneration efforts

A shift in rhetoric around regeneration has moved the focus in recent years from supporting communities and tackling social deprivation, to regeneration aimed at growing local economies. A key focus in 2014 was the state of town centres. Planning and economic policies continued to try to halt falling numbers of businesses and visitors. Meanwhile councils and retailers tried to get their heads around the potential of new technologies, with high-level groups such as the Digital High Street Advisory Board launching.

Are local authorities the saviour of the UK high street?

Improving the built environment: how to tackle vacant and derelict buildings

Town centres first – has the policy failed?

Is the UK high street back on its feet?


Cities became smarter even if citizens didn’t

The smart city revolution continued, with both Glasgow’s Future Cities Demonstrator and London’s Future Cities Catapult bringing businesses, local government and academia together. The potential of technology and data to transform infrastructure and planning in urban areas took off in a big way in 2014 but many argue that the public don’t really understand the privacy implications. And with over 20% of the UK population estimated to still lack the basic digital skills to use the internet, will the benefits of technology be shared equally?

Smart cities: recent literature

Putting the “Smarts” into Smart Cities


The Knowledge Exchange celebrated its 40th birthday

2014 marked 40 years of our membership service supporting policymakers and practitioners. Over this period we’ve gone from photocopying and posting research bulletins to members, to delivering 21st century knowledge and intelligence services.

At the end of December we held an event to review the state of the evidence landscape in the UK and explore the future. What was clear is that there continues to be a huge appetite for expert insight. In the next year we’ll increase the value we provide our members through briefings, as well as work with key partners to open up our service to even more people.

Over 40 years supporting UK public policy 1973-2014

Counting down to 2015 … a year in policy (part 1)


With 2015 fast approaching, we look back at some of our favourite posts of the year and how they reflect key concerns within public and social policy …

Evidence became a buzz word

Centrally-driven schemes to promote evidence use, such as the What Works network, became more firmly embedded in the policy landscape this year. Whether they will succeed in their stated desire to improve decision-making, especially at the level of local services, remains to be seen.

Making the connections: joining up research and local government

The use and application of knowledge: a practitioner’s guide

How preventative policymaking could benefit local authorities

Evidence-based policy resources: reading list

Austerity continued

The economy showed signs of improvement and a move back towards sustained growth. But constraints on local government finances continued, with the extent and potential impact of the cuts represented in December’s financial settlement for English councils for 2015-16 being hotly debated.

While some continued to suggest that combined authorities and shared services could provide major efficiencies, the voluntary sector appeared to be the biggest losers as the Big Society ideology finally floundered and co-production agendas risked becoming a way for public bodies to transfer risk and cut services.

8 ways local authorities can support community empowerment in an age of austerity

Using service design for user-focused, cost-effective public services

Co-production and the changing relationship between citizen and state

Why local authorities should support community organisations delivering local services


New solutions proposed for old planning problems

Garden cities were endorsed by the UK Government in an April prospectus, and then in their announcements of plans for new housing at Ebbsfleet and Bicester. The Wolfson Prize for Economics this year also focused on how to deliver a garden city which is visionary, economically viable and popular.

The question remains whether the public are ready to accept the reality of constructing new settlements. The ongoing controversy over building in the green belt suggests that it could turn into a battle of vested interests versus public opinion, played out in the media and at local council meetings across the country.

Garden cities – back to the future

Loosening the belt –the debate over building on green belt land


Check back tomorrow for part 2 of our round up….