Better Government


  • This article is based on the former Cabinet Secretary's inaugural lecture at UCL. The author would like to thank Robert Hazell and his colleagues at the Constitution Unit at UCL for their help and support.


The decline in future trend economic growth coupled with the ever increasing demands of an ageing population mean the public sector will need to deliver better for less. This will require a smarter bureaucracy using the latest behavioural advances and using wellbeing as a measure of success. Spending will need to be directed more to prevention rather than cure. Radical tax and benefit reform is needed to make work pay and offset the rise in inequality.

Decision making could be improved by attracting more diverse, experienced people into politics by, for example, more use of open primaries, a level playing field for independent candidates and better training. Ministers could be set proper objectives and have constructive appraisals.

A proposed Office of Taxpayer Responsibility could screen policies to avoid the worst ones, backed by no evidence, from being introduced as it is very hard to abolish bad policies.