The Smith Institute is a leading independent, not for profit, public policy think tank. We aim to inform, develop and promote policies that help create a society which is productive and prosperous, but shares it wealth and power with a strong sense of social justice and fairness. We are well known in the media and have a first-rate reputation among politicians, policy-makers, opinion formers, academics and decision-makers in the private, public and third sector.
The Institute was founded in 1996 in memory of the late John Smith MP, former leader of the Labour Party, who was respected and admired by the public and politicians from all political parties.
We provide high-quality research, advice and education and posses an extensive network of research fellows and contacts. Through our reports, briefings, monographs, events, lectures, surveys, classes, and website, the Institute offers a platform for informed debate on a wide range of topics. We are interested not only in innovation and new ideas, but also in how to translate policy into practice. Besides our published research, the Institute also offers an advisory and consultancy service.
We are based in Somerset House, London. Much of our work is focused around Parliament and Whitehall, although we are one of the few think tanks that regularly holds events outside of the Capital. We also undertake occasional international work and have links with foreign think tanks and universities.
What we do
Think tanks make an important contribution to the policies and solutions that affect all our lives. It is essential that decision makers consider the costs and consequences of their actions. Society is becoming ever more complex and failure to understand to get policies ‘fit for purpose’ can have damaging consequences.
The Institute offers thought leadership on a variety of topics and seeks to connect politics and policy to the real world of decision making. We provide fresh insights and alternative perspectives and regularly discuss our work in the media.
Through our work we hope to promote greater awareness of the costs and benefits of new policies as well as a better understanding of what is practical, and what is possible. We cover the broad public policy canvas, but have a particular focus on: politics and government, economy and local growth, housing and regeneration; public services, and the world of work.
Our research is evidence based and focused on “influencing the influencers”. We believe that informed and intelligent debate which takes in a cross-section of views and opinions – from the social impacts to the financial costs and political consequences – makes for better decision making and a better society. As such we endeavour to work across the public, private and third sectors. We engage with executives and senior managers, professional and trade bodies, campaigners, community groups, charities and journalists.
We understand the political system and the policy making process and work closely with leading politicians, political commentators, civil servants and advisers. The Institute is well known in parliament and submits evidence to parliamentary committees and public inquiries. We also have strong links with the devolved governments and local authorities.
The Institute is well regarded for drawing on these diverse networks to bring practitioners, policy makers and politicians together to debate issues of mutual concern in a constructive and useful way. Our roundtable discussions, parliamentary seminars, and fringe events at the party conferences are especially acclaimed.
The Institute is proud of its contribution to the discussion and development of public policy. All our work is open to scrutiny and each project we undertake is independently funded. We are a highly trusted organisation and do not depend on personal donations or gifts; instead we receive sponsorship from a wide range of organisations, including professional bodies, companies, local government, universities, campaign groups, trade unions and charitable foundations.
The chair is the Institute is Lord Murray Elder and the vice chair Lord Larry Whitty. Baroness Ruth Lister and Lord John Monks also sit on the board.