This chapter spotlights the cyclical interest, at a governmental level in England, in design governance, characterised by discrete periods of strong public oversight and relative market freedom. The chapter analyses the failure to deliver a consistent approach to place and housing quality over the last decade – a period in which the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment’s role in design scrutiny was ended while greater ‘market freedoms’ arrived in the form of an extension of permitted development rights. It notes that while permitted development rights are producing the ‘slums of the future’, a conservative ‘beauty’ ethic that will affect future planned development has been re-rooted in the Office for Place, marking the standard cyclical return to design oversight, though one that leans heavily on traditional urbanism. The chapter argues that the return of oversight, albeit in a very different form, might be cautiously welcomed if it can be evolved to correct at least some of the failings of design governance that have become apparent in the last decade.
The conclusion reviews the findings of the other chapters and returns to a question set up in the introduction, asking whether the issues in planning in England reflect: failings of the planning system, profession and ‘discipline’; failings of the state within which planning has to operate (which then uses planning as a scapegoat for its own failure to deliver); or a combination of both state and planning failure. The conclusion then identifies four cross-cutting themes that recur in the preceding chapters, those of rhetoric, rapidity (of reform), resourcing (or the lack of) and regressive outcomes. Across these four themes, the conclusion summarises how UK government (in)action has caused or exacerbated problems with the operation of the English planning system, and represents an unprecedented failure of that government to design and implement a functioning planning system.
This chapter uses recent crises and dramatic experiences of UK government to reflect on more general and enduring aspects of UK politics and policy. Policy analysis helps to identify the overwhelming number of problems facing a government at any one time, and how ministers define and prioritise problems. Policy studies show how UK ministers draw – with modest success – on the Westminster story to portray strong, decisive government acting in the national interest. Their experiences exemplify the limits associated with the complex government story, including the need to inherit problems and policies, and respond to multiple crises, while having a limited understanding of events and control over outcomes. Critical policy analysis helps to show how policy makers, the media and public pay disproportionate and infrequent attention to inequality.
In 2016, the ‘Brexit’ campaign drew on the Westminster story to describe ‘taking back control’ of UK policy and policy making. In 2020, the UK left the EU. The complex government story suggests that UK ministers have limited knowledge and control over policy processes. The Brexit process exposed those limitations, and changed only one of many drivers of fragmented and multi-level policy making. Brexit created confusion about the new responsibilities of devolved governments, and amplified demands for a second referendum on Scottish independence. Three approaches highlight key perspectives on these issues. Policy analysis identifies how to address constitutional issues. For example, what case could people make to leave or remain in the EU? Policy studies identifies how governments manage constitutional change. What was the consequence of Brexit on policy and policy making? Critical policy analysis identifies and challenges inequitable processes and outcomes. Who won and lost from Brexit?
This chapter shows that studies of COVID-19 help to understand policy-making crises and the social and economic dilemmas associated with public health. COVID-19 prompted rapid and radical UK policy change. State intervention, to limit behaviour and compensate for economic inactivity, seemed inconceivable before 2020. Yet, critics of the UK government identify a too-slow and ineffective response. Three approaches highlight key perspectives on COVID-19 policy and policy making. Policy analysis identifies how to address a profound existential crisis in public health. How could UK and devolved governments define and seek to solve this problem? Policy studies identifies how governments address the problems and policy processes that they do not fully understand or control. How did governments respond? Critical policy analysis identifies and challenges inequitable processes and outcomes. Whose knowledge mattered? Who won and lost from government action and inaction?
The 2008 global economic crisis had a profound impact on the UK government, which borrowed extensively to support banks and deal with the cost of recession. The 2010 Coalition government sought to address the UK’s deficit and debt problems by reducing public spending and reforming public services. This emphasis on ‘austerity’ reinforced a longer-term trend towards neoliberalism, emphasising state retrenchment in favour of individual and communal activity.
Three approaches highlight key perspectives on these issues. Policy analysis identifies how to address economic crises. For example, what is the size, urgency and cause of the problem? What solutions should governments adopt? Policy studies identifies how governments address the impacts of economic crisis. Which policies have governments favoured, and what has been their impact? Critical policy analysis identifies and challenges inequitable processes and outcomes. We highlight choices to reduce social security spending, with a disproportionate impact on people with disabilities, women and minoritised populations
Climate change is an existential crisis requiring global and domestic cooperation to secure rapid and radical policy change. There is a large gap between requirements and reality. Environmental issues receive fleeting attention, reforms have not produced the required outcomes, and other policies undermine their progress. Three approaches highlight key perspectives on these issues. Policy analysis identifies how to address environmental crises. For example, what policy instruments are technically and politically feasible? Policy studies identifies how governments address the impacts of climate change. Which policies have governments favoured, and what has been their impact? How coherent is their approach to climate change, energy, transport and food policies? Critical policy analysis identifies and challenges inequitable processes and outcomes. Does policy address climate justice as well as climate change?
This chapter compares different stories of UK policy making.
The Westminster story describes the concentration of power in the hands of few people at the heart of central government.
It remains an important reference point even when it provides an inaccurate account of policy making. The complex government story describes the limits to central government control. It is more accurate but less easy to understand and connect to UK political norms. The chapter explores what happens when policy makers draw on both stories for different reasons, even when they seem to contradict each other.
There are limited studies focused on examining specific types of evidence, like surveys beyond the US and territories with unicameral legislatures and unique contexts.
Aims and objectives:
To measure the extent of survey research being used as evidence in policymaking in Hong Kong.
Through document analysis, this study screened and examined Hong Kong Legislative Council documents utilised to enact 569 bills from 2000 to 2022.
About 25% of bills utilised surveys as evidence, with differences across 18 policy areas. Health services recorded the highest percentage of survey use in legislation. In the Hong Kong legislature, surveys are primarily used to understand policy issues better. Mode of data collection, sample size, response rates, and representativeness of surveys are not commonly discussed in legislative documents.
Discussion and conclusion:
The study findings reaffirm previous research on the limited utilisation of survey evidence in policymaking in Hong Kong, an Asian context with a unicameral legislation and colonial history. The importance of survey evidence was highlighted in policy areas that directly impact the public, such as healthcare. The findings also highlight the important role of politics in investigating the use of surveys as research evidence for policymaking.
The UK Labour government supported the US ‘war on terror’ following terrorist attacks on the US on 9 September 2001 (9/11). The UK was a key contributor to US-led wars in Afghanistan from 2001 and Iraq from 2003. The Iraq War prompted high public protest in the UK, without changing UK policy. These conflicts provide a useful way to examine UK foreign policies. Three approaches highlight key perspectives. Foreign policy analysis examines how to understand international conflict. The Westminster and complex government stories help to explain the central control of policy choices but not outcomes. Critical policy analysis helps identify who wins and loses