I enjoyed Policy Exchange because of how it provided an opportunity to present and discuss some of the narratives that are currently driving policy design, including: government responses to the recession; choice architecture, in particular the role of behavioural economics and incentives in changing people’s behaviour; and how a social return on investment should concern policy makers.
If we take these narratives seriously, the task for policy makers is to use a broader range of indicators for planning and evaluating interventions. I believe it will also be important to consider the social return of policy interventions and how economic growth policies could, or should, be designed to benefit communities as we chart policies post the global financial crisis, so that communities might require less government assistance as they come to look after each other more. The discussion of incentives also raises interesting questions about to what extent government should structure our choices and when this activity might be legitimate.
We should also keep discussing the efficacy of these narratives in relation to principles such as fairness (justice), personal responsibility and compassion so that public policy does not become a victim of political pragmatism – something which is at risk of happening in my own country, New Zealand.
Thanks for the opportunity to attend.
~ Steve Thomas