Matthew Oakley

Matthew Oakley
Matthew now works at Which?, heading up their economic analysis unit. Matthew was Policy Exchange’s Head of Economics & Social Policy from 2011 to 2013, focusing on welfare reform, growth and the UK economy, public sector reform and financial policy. His recent publications include an assessment of the public sector pay premium across the wage distribution; reports outlining the next steps for tackling unemployment and benefit dependency; and a report outlining areas where Government must focus to boost growth in the long-term.

Related Publications

Fostering Aspirations: Reforming the foster care system in England and Wales

Some 48,530 children are now in a care system that is letting many of them down and is in radical need of reform.Fostering Aspirations makes a number of recommendations to increase the number of carers and improve the quality of care children receive.

Public and Private Sector Pay: 2013 update

Public sector workers in the North East, Merseyside and South West of England earn as much as £3,200 more than their equivalents in the private sector. The variation in pay has arisen because of the system of national pay bargaining, which means that workers are paid the same amount regardless of where they live. The paper recommends abolishing national pay deals and moving to a system which can reflect local labour markets and reward performance.

Capping Welfare

Capping Welfare argues that post 2015, cutting Winter Fuel Payments or TV licences for pensioners is ‘simply tinkering around the edges’. Cuts to these pensioner perks would save at most £3 billion even if there were completely removed. In contrast, the State pension costs are set to rise by some £40 billion in today’s terms the next 50 years. This would mean younger generations saddled with enormous financial burdens.

Route2Work: Employment support for the very-hardest-to-help

The Work Programme is not doing enough to help those furthest away from the labour market. Route2Work says that paying private and voluntary providers to help people back into work is a sensible approach to reducing unemployment. However, there needs to be a new complementary scheme that encourages and rewards charities, social enterprises and small-scale providers to help the most vulnerable people.

Slow Progress: Improving progression in the UK labour market

Policy Exchange's response to the DWP’s labour market interventions consultation, Slow Progress says that there must be greater conditions for in-work claimants to ensure that they are doing all they can to increase their hours and earnings. The introduction of Universal Credit this year provides the government with an opportunity to ensure that workers reliant on state benefits are explicitly asked to do more to find more work where possible.

Outcomes, Not Just Incomes: Improving Britain’s understanding and measurement of child poverty

Outcomes, Not Just Incomes says that nearly one in five children (2.3 million) across the UK are living materially deprived lives and are not included in the government’s headline measure of relative income poverty. This is despite £170 billion of expenditure between 2003 and 2010. The report identifies a number of problems with the existing measure of child poverty and recommends a new Child Poverty Bill that would measure social poverty as well as household income.

Mind the Gap: The size and costs of pay differentials between the public and private sectors in the UK

Mind the Gap examines how public and private wages differ in local areas. It demonstrates a complex picture of mismatches between the wages one might expect individuals to receive based on their characteristics and types of job, and the public sector wages they receive: pay differentials vary dramatically both across and within regions and across the pay distribution.

Local Pay, Local Growth: Reforming pay setting in the public sector

Rebalancing the pay and pensions of public sector workers so that they are in line with that of equivalent workers in the private sector would save £6.3 billion a year in public spending. This money would be better spent on tackling local unemployment and could create at least 288,000 private sector jobs in some of the areas of the country suffering most from the impact of the recession.

Welfare Reform 2.0: Long-term solutions, not short-term savings

Welfare Reform 2.0 says politicians need to be more honest about how successful JobCentre Plus is at reducing the number of people claiming benefits. While they talk of 75% of all benefit claimants moving off JSA within six months, in fact, less than half of claimants will enter paid employment of over 16 hours. 30% of claimants leaving JSA are back on benefits again within eight months. Although 1.4million part […]

Further analysis on the public sector pay premium

This Research Note updates and extends our previous analysis of the public sector pay gap using three new quarters of Labour Force Survey data. It shows that for the median worker, an hourly pay gap of 8.89% exists when adjusted for age, gender, full time and part time work, region, and qualifications (though not other factors such as pension entitlement, holidays or productivity). For those toward the bottom of the […]

Looking to the Future of Growth

Looking to the Future of Growth brings together a collection of essays from experts in Policy Exchange as well as from business and industry. Each lays out the author’s views on the blockages to growth and makes suggestions for where Government policy must focus.

Something for Nothing: Reinstating conditionality for jobseekers

Something for Nothing is the third report in our welfare reform series. The report calls for a new points based system for Jobseekers Allowance that recognises different ‘job-search’ activities that claimants are required to carry out each week.

Personalised Welfare

Personalised Welfare: Rethinking employment support and Jobcentres notes serious problems with Jobcentre Plus. JCP’s job search database is severely dysfunctional and JCPs advisers are hamstrung by poor use of information, which gives them only very basic information about the claimants they are trying to help.

Public and private sector terms, conditions and the issue of fairness

This note examines the evolution of pay and conditions during 2010 and what the prospects are for these moving forward. It shows that public sector pay is higher and continued to grow faster than private sector pay during 2010 and that significant reforms will need to be made to limit job losses in the public sector and to achieve equity and fairness in the labour market.

No Rights Without Responsibility: Rebalancing the welfare state

No Rights Without Responsibility argues that conditions on benefit claimants should be increased so that they have to spend more time each week looking for a job.

Tackling the Causes of Poverty: Replacing the child poverty target with a multi-dimensional set of causal indicators

Tackling the Causes of Poverty is Policy Exchange's response to the government's child poverty consultation. It recommends replacing the current, income-based, measures of poverty with new, wider, measures that reflect the multi-dimensional and complex causes of poverty for both adults and children.

Related Blogs

Zero-hours contracts are a vital path to working

Matthew Oakley, Head of Economics and Social Policy at Policy Exchange argues that rather than banning zero-hour contracts, ministers should recognise the important role they play in helping growing businesses drive the economy and for those looking to take their first steps into the labour market.

The benefit cap is right but it will only ever be a short-term solution

Matthew Oakley, Policy Exchange's Head of Economics & Social Policy, backs the introduction of a benefit cap at £26,000, but argues that it is only a short term solution. He says that if state spending is to be meaningfully reduced in the future, the government must tackle the costs of housing and rationalise financial support for the low paid.

Universal Credit: Good Start, More Needs to be Done

Matthew Oakley, Head of Economics & Social Policy at Policy Exchange, argues that welfare reforms to date should mark the start of what should be a decade of welfare reform, with future reforms focusing on individual responsibilities and on improving state support.

Worse-off areas need private sector growth and jobs

Matthew Oakley, Policy Exchange's Head of Economics & Social Policy, responds in a letter to The Financial Times to a recent article in the paper on the impact of April's changes to welfare which showed Northern cities being most affected by the cuts. Matthew pointed out that areas with the highest unemployment will naturally see higher benefit cuts, and stressed that what worse-off areas really need is private sector jobs and growth.

Jobcentre Plus has become a revolving door

Policy Exchange's Ed Holmes, Senior Research Fellow for Economics & Social Policy, and Matthew Oakley, Head of Economics & Social Policy, set out why Jobcentre Plus needs to undergo serious reforms. They argue that currently only half of claimants leaving jobseeker's allowance are still in work eight months later, stressing that Jobcentre Plus does not go far enough in getting people into long-term employment.

Why the Government is right to take on welfare reform

Matthew Oakley, Policy Exchange's Head of Economics & Social Policy, sets out why the government is right to take on welfare reform. Matthew argues that we are currently spending nearly £100 billion on working age benefits, and that just a 5% reduction could pay for four new runways at Heathrow over two years and other key projects such as new hospitals and schools.

David Cameron needs a more radical remedy for our economic ills

Matthew Oakley, Policy Exchange's Head of Economics & Social Policy, argues that David Cameron's recent announcement that he plans to stick to the government's current deficit commitments are right, but said the Prime Minister needs to adopt a more radical approach to solving the UK's economic problems, making suggestions in the areas of housing and job creation.

Welfare-to-work schemes will continue, despite appeal court ruling

Matthew Oakley, Policy Exchange's Head of Economics & Social Policy, analyses the likely impact of the ruling on the recent Reilly workfare case. Oakley argues that the ruling will have little effect, being based only on a technical issue that will soon be rectified, leaving the government's back-to-work schemes intact.

Child poverty - Government should focus on outcomes as well as incomes

Matthew Oakley, Head of Policy Exchange's Economics & Social Policy unit, sets out the importance of an effective measure of child poverty, highlighting the findings of recent report Outcomes, Not Just Incomes which revealed that 2.3 million children are in material poverty but do not come under the current government measure of child poverty.

Welfare reform must be based on the principle of 'something for something'

Matthew Oakley, Head of Economics & Social Policy at Policy Exchange, writes setting out three key principles for welfare reform: building self-sufficiency, conditionality and employment support.

The government should learn from big companies on local pay policy

Matthew Oakley, Head of Economics & Social Policy at Policy Exchange, argues that the government should learn from big companies on local pay policy. Matthew sets out findings from Policy Exchange report Local Pay, Local Growth,which suggests that rebalancing public sector pay and pensions in line with the private sector could save £6.3 billion a year.

Freezing working age benefits is a short term solution

Matthew Oakley, Head of Economics & Social Policy at Policy Exchange, argues that the government's plans to freeze working-age benefits is not a long-term solution. Matthew suggests that further government cuts should focus on bad expenditure or on where reforms could increase employment.

How a northern pay-restraint-for-more-infrastructure deal would work

Matthew Oakley, Head of Economics & Social Policy at Policy Exchange, sets out how reforming public sector pay as set out in report Local Pay, Local Growth would free up £6.3 billion a year for tackling unemployment and modernising infrastructure.

How's this for a deal? Regional pay fund regional infrastructure

Matthew Oakley, Head of Economics & Social Policy at Policy Exchange, argues that recommendations from reportEnding Expensive Social Tenancies and reforming public sector pay would create savings which could be reinvested into growth-enhancing infrastructure.

Foster Care Reforms Needed Alongside Focus On Adoption

Head of Economics & Social Policy Matthew Oakley sets out the reforms recommended for the foster care system in Policy Exchange report Fostering Aspirations, including boosting the number of carers, ensuring local authorities make better use of private and third sector providers and having the Secretary of State be more proactive where local authorities are failing.

Join our mailing list