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Profile of Policy Exchange (PX)

PolicyExchange Key people

The team includes Neil O'Brien, Director; Sian Hansen, Managing Director; Natalie Evans, Deputy Director; and Amy Fisher, Communications Director.

Dr Andrew Lilico has been recruited to oversee Policy Exchange's economics output. Dean Godson oversees 'Security policy'. In addition there are:

  • Criminal Justice - Gavin Mcikinnon
  • Health - Henry Featherstone
  • Education - Anna Fazackerley
  • Environment - Simon Less

Neil O'Brien ran Open Europe before joining Policy Exchange in 2008. He succeeded Anthony Browne who left to become Head of Policy for the Mayor of London. Browne's predecessor was Nick Boles. Boles founded Policy Exchange with Michael Gove and now runs the Conservative Party's Implementation Team with Francis Maude MP. This is just one of the many links Policy Exchange has with the Tory Party. PX's former head of research, James O'Shaughnessy, now runs the Conservative Research Department.  Sam Freedman and Gavin Lockhart, also from PX, now work in the Tory policy unit under Oliver Letwin.

Policy Exchange's Chairman is the former Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore. PX's trustees include the chief executive of the Next retailer, Simon Wolfson and Times journalists Camilla Cavendish and Alice Thomson.

Basic philosophy

Policy Exchange is an independent, educational charity that is seeking free market and localist solutions to public policy questions.

PX supports the wider use of market forces and the promotion of individual responsibility, and is interested in how these tools could be used to achieve progressive ends - to give new opportunities to groups that don't have them today.

PX also believes in strengthening society. They advocate empowering communities to solve their own problems at a local level, and helping people to be more self-reliant. This applies in everything from criminal justice to environmental policy. For example, Policy Exchange's research on welfare reform suggests that traditional welfare policies have too often created perverse incentives, undermined the social fabric, and failed because they don't tackle the underlying causes of poverty.

Recent achievements

Sometimes dubbed David Cameron's favourite think tank it ran into some trouble in the summer of 2008. The Tory leader dubbed one of their reports "insane" for suggesting that some northern cities are "beyond revival." It suggested that mobility should be improved to make it easier for people to leave Liverpool and Sunderland.

PX also sparked controversy over another report about Mosques selling extremist publications. Newsnight claimed some of the receipts were forged. Resulting legal costs have apparently been steep although £75,000 of damages was recently awarded to Policy Exchange.

While being unafraid of tackling such sensitive matters PX has scored plenty of hits in producing policies which politicians have been happy to adopt. The Home Secretary announced that the Government would accept one of the recommendations of Getting to the Point that called for new legislation on banning orders. The Government introduced a set of new clauses making provision for the establishment of injunctions to prevent gang-related violence.

The proposal to give social housing tenants the right to require their landlord to sell their current property and buy somewhere new as outlined in Right to Move was included in the Conservatives' 2009 Housing Green Paper.

Their proposals on elected police commissioners are currently under consideration by the Conservatives.
Their proposal for a 'pupil premium' to give schools extra funding for taking on pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, as set out in School Funding and Social Justice has been taken on by both the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats.  

Future plans

Policy proposals being worked up at present include Choice in primary care, the fees and funding of the universities and police reform.

Picture 10 They are also doing more and more work on the control of public spending and borrowing including a landmark report examining how other nations in history have tackled deficits.

Approximate budget and staff numbers.

Annual budget as disclosed to the Charity Commission is £2.66 million.  There are 30 staff, mostly full time, plus three interns.

Contact details


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