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.
The Institute was founded in 1996 in memory of the late John Smith MP, former leader of the Labour Party, who was a leading proponent of social justice and widely respected. In the spirit of the late John Smith the Institute has focused its work on advancing ideas and policies that ensure a better and more sustainable and equitable society for everyone. We are not only interested in innovation and new ideas, but in how to translate policy into practice.
Over the years we have built up a first-rate reputation among national and local politicians, policy-makers, opinion formers, the media, academics and decision-makers in the private, public and third sector. The Institute has also partnered with a range of organisations, including public agencies, professional bodies, private companies, trade unions, campaign groups, and charities and foundations.
The Institute has an extensive catalogue of publications and held hundreds of events. We are well known in the mainstream, social and specialist media and regularly contribute articles and blogs and speak at conferences and seminars. The Institute also uses alternative ways of communicating, such as animations. We keep a close eye on political change and the policy agenda and regularly contribute both government and parliamentary consultations, as well as independent consultations and inquiries.
We provide high-quality, evidence-based research, advice and education and possess an extensive network of research fellows and contacts. Through our reports, briefings, commissions, monographs, events, lectures, surveys, and website, the Institute offers a platform for informed debate on a wide range of topics. The Institute also offers an advisory and consultancy service and has provided secretariat services to major commissions, such as the Affordable Housing Commission and local government poverty commissions.
We are based in London and although much of our work is focused around Parliament and Whitehall, we are one of the few think tanks that conducts research and 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 full costs and consequences of their actions. Society is becoming ever more complex and failure to understand how to make policies ‘fit for purpose’ and sustainable 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. We often combine independent polling and focus group work with research and stakeholder engagement to give a rounded perspective on public policy issues. This blended approach offers fresh insights into problem solving.
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 expertise on: politics and government, economy and local growth, housing and regeneration; sustainable development, public services, tackling poverty and the world of work.
Our research – both quantitative and qualitative – seeks to raise public awareness, inform and shape the policy debate, and “influence 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 and from the local community to MPs and councillors – makes for better decision making and a better society.
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 has good links with the devolved governments, metro-mayors 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 on a project by project basis.
The chair of the Institute is Lord Larry Whitty. Baroness Ruth Lister, Lord Murray Elder and Lord John Monks also sit on the board.