Think Tanks

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Profile of Reform

Reform Key people involved

The team includes Director, Andrew Haldenby and the outgoing Deputy Director, Liz Truss.  Liz is standing down having been selected as a Conservative PPC.

Consultant Directors include Professor Nick Bosanquet and Greg Rosen.  The Chief Economist is Dr Patrick Nolan.  Senior researchers are Lucy Parsons (public spending) and Dale Bassett (social policy).  Anna Calvert manages fundraising and events.

The new Chairman of their Advisory Board is Sir Adrian Montague.

The cross-party Parliamentary members of their Advisory Board are Frank Field MP, Ed Vaizey MP and Jeremy Browne MP.

The think tank was established in 2001 by Andrew Haldenby and Nick Herbert – now a Tory MP and a member of the Shadow Cabinet.

Basic philosophy

Reform is an independent, charitable, non-party think tank which seeks to make the case for radical reform of public services.

They aim to produce research on the core issues of the economy, health, education, law and order, and on the right balance between government and individual; then to communicate this research to politicians and opinion formers in all parties and none in order to create a consensus for reform."

Reform is constituted as a charity (the Reform Research Trust, registered charity no. 1103739).

Recent achievements

Reform was shortlisted in the 2009 Prospect Think Tank of the Year awards for Think Tank of the Year and Publication of the Year – for Back to Black, a pioneering publication on public spending cuts.

The hole we are in, Reform’s Pre-Budget Report paper in November, took a strong stance against a fiscal stimulus and argued against boosting the economy through extra spending and debt.  This was the position adopted by the Conservative Party.

Back to black, Reform’s Budget paper in April, called for immediate cuts in public spending. It offered specific proposals for spending reductions.

Reform is regarded as influential in the Conservative decision to scrap their proposed ring fencing on education and defence spending although they have failed to persuade the Party to make a similar change on health spending.

Reform has attacked the proliferation of middle-class welfare, which it regards as an unaffordable luxury given the state of the public finances. Back to Black proposed abolishing or means-testing a number of universal benefits, proposals that were expanded upon in The end of entitlement.

Their paper Fit for Purpose argued that civil service reform is essential to delivering effective public service reform. It proposed that Ministers should appoint top-level civil servants who would then be publicly accountable. Liam Byrne, then Cabinet Office Minister, spoke favourably of the proposal, which was also endorsed by The Independent’s Steve Richards. Sir Gus O’Donnell was not so keen – and in objecting prompted a minor diplomatic spat with Barack Obama’s administration.

Reform's The Value of Mathematics report was accused by The Guardian of itself containing an arithmatical error. It said 40% of maths graduates go into financial services but The Guardian worked it out as 20%. Labour bloggers also attacked their proposals for maternity pay changes saying it would leave an average family £1,500 worse off.

In July, David Cameron made a speech for Reform on quangos and accountable, effective government.

Reform’s June paper A new level proposed putting university academics in charge of A-levels to restore rigour to the qualification, an idea that was adopted by Michael Gove shortly after publication. The report
attracted significant media attention and the Conservatives have since proposed re-emphasising the core academic subjects, more rigorous exams, abolishing the Diploma, scrapping narrow measure league tables, and abolishing the QCDA, all policies suggested by the report.

Given the nervousness of politicians towards any criticism of the NHS it is perhaps shrewd of Reform to recruit doctors to their cause. Following a prolonged campaign by Doctors for Reform, then Health Secretary Alan Johnson historically announced that NHS patients would be allowed to privately top up their care. Their interest in health reform has, however, attracted hostile attention from the unions.

Future plans

New research reports are planned on 14-16 education, reducing public spending by improving the efficiency of public services, the future of taxation, the fundamental reform of the NHS and on what government should and should not do to help businesses, including a major one day conference.

Approximate budget and number of staff

2009 revenue: £1,000,000.

9 full time staff
1 part time staff
4 interns

Contact details


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