Policy Exchange

20 Years of shaping the policy Agenda

Policy Exchange is the UK’s leading think tank. As an educational charity our mission is to develop and promote new policy ideas which deliver better public services, a stronger society and a more dynamic economy.

Policy Exchange’s status as the UK’s most influential think tank is widely recognised. Conservative Home has declared that “If anyone was to draw up a list of the top twenty most influential think tanks in Westminster, can anyone seriously doubt that Policy Exchange would be at number one?”

Many alumni and past associates of Policy Exchange are now members of Parliament or hold key advisory positions in Government. However, Policy Exchange’s influence extends across party divides. Ideas from at least 24 papers were contained in the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green 2019 manifestos – from social care to education, farming to judicial power.

Our research predominantly falls under four main themes:

  • Prosperity
  • People
  • Place
  • Patriotism

Past and future

We are Britain’s leading think tank and a preferred venue for top politicians and leaders in the United Kingdom, and internationally. Policy Exchange is comprised of experts in a wide range of areas including energy and environment, economics, technology, urban space, transport, international affairs, space and security policy. Policy Exchange’s influence extends across party divides. Ideas from at least 24 papers were contained in the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green 2019 manifestos – from social care to education, farming to judicial power.

Shaping the Policy Agenda since 2002

What do we want from the New Prime Minister? Series launched

During the 2022 Conservative Leadership Election, Policy Exchange launched a series of manifestos for the new Government, with contributions on policing, health and social care, reform of the Civil Service and economics.


Grotius Prize

Policy Exchange’s inaugural Grotius Prize is awarded to the Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas for her work to upholding the international rules-based system and standing up against Russian aggression.


Delegitimising Counter-Terrorism: The Activist Campaign to Demonise Prevent

Former British Prime Minister David Cameron contributes the foreword to Delegitimising Counter-Terrorism: The Activist Campaign to Demonise Prevent. This is the first substantive examination of the Islamist groups opposing the government's Prevent counter-terrorism strategy.


Policy Exchange wins at Think Tank Awards

Policy Exchange come first in two categories at the prestigious Prospect magazine Annual Think Tank Awards, winning first place for 'Advocacy' and 'Health, Science and Medicine' think tank of the year.


Wolfson Prize 2021

The fourth edition of the Wolfson Economics Prize was awarded to Ab Rogers Design Ltd for hospital design.


A wait on your mind?

NHS England adopts a proposal from the Policy Exchange report, A wait on your mind? for a consumer-facing platform to support those waiting for treatment on the NHS. The NHS’s online platform ‘My Planned Care’ was subsequently launched in February 2022.

Read the report2021

Re-engineering Regulation

Lord Sedwill chairs major new Policy Exchange project, Re-engineering Regulation to offer a roadmap for regulatory reform fit for the post-Brexit, post-Covid era.

Read the Report2021

Reform of Government

Policy Exchange’s Reform of Government Commission, chaired by Dame Patricia Hodgson. released its final report, Government Reimagined. The report was welcomed by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

Read the Report2021

Policy Exchange hosts a series of speakers including Bill Gates, Condoleezza Rice, Lt Gen H R McMaster, Hon Tony Abbott AC, Admiral James Stavridis, General David Petraeus.


A Very British Tilt

Policy Exchange launched an Indo-Pacific Commission led by the former Canadian Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Stephen Harper. The Commission’s report, A Very British Tilt: Towards a new UK strategy in the Indo-Pacific, which carried a Foreword by former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, presaged the Government’s Integrated Review.


Read the Report2020

Grotius Prize

The inaugural Policy Exchange Grotius Prize was awarded to Hon Scott Morrison MP, the Prime Minister of Australia, in recognition of his work in support of the international rules based order, with remarks by Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.


Route ’35

Featuring a Foreword from the Secretary of State for Transport, Policy Exchange set out how a California-style ZEV Mandate can deliver the phase-out of petrol and diesel cars. The Government committed to implement a ZEV mandate from 2024 onwards

Read the Report2020

Open Europe

Marking the UK withdrawal from the European Union, Policy Exchange merged with the think tank Open Europe.

Read More2020

Rethinking the Planning System for the 21st Century

Policy Exchange call for wholesale reform of the UK planning system. Policy Exchange’s proposals are adopted in the Government’s August 2020 Planning for the Future White Paper.

Read the Report2020

Dr William Schneider Jr

Visiting Scholar, Dr William Schneider Jr, former Chair of the US Defense Science Board, gives a major speech on “Delivering National Scientific & Technological Advantage”. The speech coincided with the publication of Visions of ARPA, an essay collection with essays from two former science ministers. The paper argued that an Advanced Research Projects Agency and provided a blueprint for the UK Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA), established in 20201.

Watch the event2020

Protecting the Constitution

With a foreword by Lord Howard of Lympne, former Home Secretary and Leader of the Opposition, Protecting the Constitution argues that Parliament is solely responsible for maintaining the balance of the constitution and should restate limits on judicial power.

Read the report2019


McDonnellomics defines the radical nature of the Labour Party’s 2019 manifesto and was the most thorough examination of the Shadow Chancellor’s policy approach and inspiration, rooted in a 1970s Bennite socialist political tradition.

Read the report2019

Boris Johnson talks at Policy Exchange

Prime Minister Boris Johnson made his first address to a UK think tank, whilst speaking at the Policy Exchange launch of Charles Moore's book "Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, Volume Three: Herself Alone".

Watch the event2019

The unconstitutionality of the Supreme Court’s prorogation judgment

Professor John Finnis FBA QC (Hon), Professor Emeritus of Law & Legal Philosophy in the University of Oxford, argues that the Supreme Court’s judgment in Miller/Cherry [2019] undercuts the sovereignty of Parliament.

Read the report2019

Modernising the United Kingdom

Policy Exchange produced that the Government should pursue a Grand Strategy to modernise the United Kingdom, drawing on the strength of the Union to stimulate local areas through both an audacious programme of infrastructure investment

Read the report2019

John Bew joins Number 10


John Bew, head of Policy Exchange’s Britain in the World Project, is appointed as the Prime Minister’s Special Adviser on Foreign Affairs. He went on to be the lead author of the Government’s Integrated Review and authored Making Global Britain Work, a Policy Exchange report called for a grand strategy of ‘creative conservative internationalism’.


Protecting Those Who Serve

Protecting Those Who Serve, called for the urgent protection UK troops, whether serving or retired, from ongoing exposure to legal risk and to unfair legal processes. It greatly shaped the Government’s Armed Forces Bill in 2021.

Read the report2019

On Islamophobia

Policy Exchange intervenes decisively to oppose the APPG British Muslims definition of Islamophobia. Senior Fellow Trevor Philips in On Islamophobia argues that what is proposed by the APPG would “make life harder” for Muslims in the UK and reduce them to “the status of perpetual victims".

Read the report2018

Launch of the Space Unit

Policy Exchange launches its Space Unit at an event with the US Secretary of the Air Force, Hon Heather Wilson, and UK Science Minister Chris Skidmore. It is the only unit dedicated to this policy area at any UK think tank and Prime Minister Boris Johnson went on to quote the Unit’s work on the steps of 10 Downing Street.


A Question of Power: Towards Better UK Strategy Through Net Assessment

A Question of Power - front cover
A Question of Power: Towards Better UK Strategy Through Net Assessment, urged that “it is the logic of long-term strategic competition that should now prevail in the government’s councils” and described China as posing a “systemic” challenge. Its recommendations were fully implemented when the MoD established SONAC, the Secretary of State’s Office for Net Assessment and Challenge.

Read the report2018

The then Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney described Policy Exchange as ‘multidisciplinary, highly influential, a productive force at the heart of Westminster and our political system’ in an event with Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve.2018

Trading Tigers

Policy Exchange advocates that the UK seeks membership of the CPTPP, the principal recommendation of Trading Tigers. CPTPP accession is a key objective of the Government’s trade policy and is central to its plans to engage with the Indo-Pacific region.


The Future of Carbon Pricing

Policy Exchange argue that an economy-wide carbon tax paid by both domestic and international producers would prevent carbon leakage. The report receives cross-party endorsement from former Labour Chancellor Lord Darling of Roulanish and former Conservative Foreign Secretary Lord Hague of Richmond.

Read the report2018

Building More, Building Beautiful: How design and style can unlock the housing crisis

Building More, Building Beautiful: How design and style can unlock the housing crisis argument that design and style should form a greater part of the planning process was incorporated into the National Planning Policy Framework; the Government announced the ‘Building Better, Building Beautiful’ Commission — its first chair was the co-author of the report, the late Sir Roger Scruton.

Read the report2018

New Netwar: Countering Extremism Online

Featuring a Foreword by General David H. Petraeus, Policy Exchange provide a comprehensive analysis of the struggle against online extremism – the ’new Netwar’. 

Read the report2017

Wolfson Prize 2017

A recent graduate from UCL has won the 2017 Wolfson Economics Prize, a £250,000 Prize that posed the question ‘How can we pay for better, safer, more reliable roads in a way that is fair to road users and good for the economy and the environment?


Human Rights and Political Wrongs

Sir Noel Malcolm in Human Rights and Political Wrongs shows how the European Court of Human Rights operates on erratic and uncertain principles resulting in bad law-making of a subjective and open-ended kind.

Read the report2017

Undersea Cables: Indispensable, Insecure

Rishi Sunak authors Undersea Cables: Indispensable, Insecure, highlighting the urgent security vulnerability affecting this critical UK infrastructure.

Read the report2017

Farming Tomorrow

The forward-looking report, Farming Tomorrow, argues for a phase out of subsidies and instead encourage investments in natural capital. This approach was later adopted in the Agriculture Bill in 2020.

Read the report2017

The Cost of Doing Nothing

Alison McGovern MP and Tom Tugendhat MP for Tonbridge argued against the rise of knee jerk isolationism, unthinking pacifism and anti-interventionism in Britain. The paper, The Cost of Doing Nothing, was initially due to be published by Jo Cox MP. However, Jo’s murder led to the paper being put on hold. The report was published posthumously and was launched by former Prime Minister Rt Hon Gordon Brown,

Read the Report2017

One Great George Street

Policy Exchange moves from Storey’s Gate to new offices in Great George Street.


Britain Imbalanced

Britain Imblanced, authored by Senior Fellow and Olympic Gold Medallist James Cracknell, calls for a tax on sugary drinks to combat rising levels of obesity. The Government adopted the policy with a Soft Drinks Industry Levy that came into effect in 2018.

Read the report2016

Judging the Public Interest

Judging the Public Interest argues that the Freedom of Information Act led to judicial overreach, eroding the ministerial right to veto the disclosures of information despite what Parliament originally intended. A panel discussion of the paper includes Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve, the Rt Hon Alistair Darling, Former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Hoffmann, former Law Lord, and Lord Justice Bean, President of the Law Commission.

Read the report2015

Launch of the Judicial Power Project

The Judicial Power Project was formally launched, with two lectures held in Gray’s Inn, London.


Overlooked but Decisive

Following the 2015 General Election, Overlooked but Decisive: Connecting with England’s Just About Managing classes examined the values and political attitudes of C1/C2 voters in 119 ‘permanent’ battleground seats in England. In her first statement as Prime Minister, Theresa May promises to support families who can “just about manage”.

Read the report2015

Clearing the Fog of Law

Clearing the Fog of Law reaffirms that armed forces on the battlefield should not be above the law but that the rules governing conflict must fall under the Geneva Conventions rather than the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). It argues that a blanket derogation from the ECHR is essential in all future conflicts involving British military personnel.

Read the report2015

Taking its toll: The regressive impact of property crime in Britain

Authored by David Lammy MP, Taking its toll: The regressive impact of property crime in Britain, explores the link between ‘low-level offending’ and more serious criminality as well as the serious impact on less well-off communities.

Read the report2015

Wolfson Prize 2014

David Rudlin was announced as the winner of the 2014 Wolfson Economics Prize for how best to deliver a new garden city which is visionary, economically viable and popular.


A Portrait of Modern Britain

Policy Exchange publishes A Portrait of Modern Britain, a handbook that drew upon an extensive set of survey, census, academic and polling data, authored by Rishi Sunak and Saratha Rajeswaran.

Read the Report2014

Northern Lights

In Northern Lights, Policy Exchange used extensive polling exercise, regression analysis and qualitative research to try and improve our understanding of public policy, and the geography of political attitudes in Britain.

Read the Report2014

Dean Godson appointed Director

Formerly head of the Security Unit, Dean Godson succeeded Neil O’Brien as Director. Dean is the longest serving Director at Policy Exchange and was made a member of the House of Lords in 2021.


Wolfson Prize 2012

Seeking innovative solutions to the greatest public policy challenges of the day, the inaugural edition of the Wolfson Economics Prize is launched in partnership with Policy Exchange, the second largest economics price in the world after the Nobel Foundation. Sponsored by The Baron Wolfson of Aspley, the £250,000 Prize was won by Capital Economics for their proposal for handling the break-up of the Eurozone.


A State of Disorder: Moving beyond the ASBO in tackling anti-social behaviour

A State of Disorder: Moving beyond the ASBO in tackling anti-social behaviour sets out a new approach for tackling anti-social behaviour including an original proposal which led to the creation of a National Citizen Service.

Read the report2010

Choosing our friends wisely

Martyn Frampton and Shiraz Maher publish Choosing our friends wisely arguing the importance for government and official bodies of establishing and following criteria when working with Islamic groups. This concept influenced the 2011 Prevent review.

Read the report2009

Which Doctor?

Policy Exchange calls for the creation of a 'patient premium' in the report, Which Doctor? The NHS later adopted the principles of the report.

Read the report2009

Litter Bugs

Featuring a Foreword by Bill Bryson, Litterbugs highlighted the blight of littering in the UK, identified a lack of systematic logic in litter enforcement policy and proposed new means of cracking down on those responsible for litter.

Read the report2009

Neil O’Brien appointed Director

Neil O’Brien was appointed as Policy Exchange’s third Director after Anthony Browne joined Boris Johnson’s London mayoral team.


Anthony Browne appointed Director

Anthony Browne is appointed as Policy Exchange’s second Director. Under Anthony Browne’s directorship, Policy Exchange was described by the Telegraph as ‘the largest, but also the most influential think tank on the right’.


Culture Vultures

This essay collection argued that the criteria for arts funding has meant that arts organisations are drowning under a tidal wave of ‘tick boxes and targets’ and is damaging UK arts policy. The collection’s editor, Munirah Murza, went on to become Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture and Director of the Number 10 Policy Unit under Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Read the Report2006

More Good School Places

Policy Exchange published More Good School Places by James O’Shaughnessy and Charlotte Leslie calling for all children at failed state schools to receive up to £6,000 additional funding per annum to help them access better education. The Pupil Premium was introduced in April 2011.

Read the Report2005

Unaffordable Housing: Fables and Myths

Britain’s Soviet-style planning system means that we live in some of the smallest, oldest and costliest homes in the developed world. Unaffordable Housing: Fables and Myths was the first of a series of papers investigating the causes of, and solutions to, Britain’s housing shortage. Described by Andrew Adonis as ‘the pamphlet of the year’.

Read the Report2005

James O’Shaughnessy joins Policy Exchange

James O’Shaughnessy joins as Policy Exchange’s Deputy Director and Director of Research


Hands up for school choice!

Policy Exchange publishes ‘Hands up for school choice!’, which led to the introduction of Free Schools by the coalition government. 

Read the report2004

Going Local: Who should run Britain’s police?

Policy Exchange’s first paper, Going Local: Who should run Britain’s police?, is published. It suggested electing Police Commissioners, a proposal later implemented by the Coalition Government in 2012

Read the Report2002

Policy Exchange Founded

Policy Exchange is founded. Nick Boles becomes its first Director and Michael Gove becomes its first Chairman.


Francis Maude and Archie Norman decided to embark on a new project to transform Westminster. The idea for Policy Exchange is born.


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