Inside: Five year plans, crisis fatigue and governing by dashboard.  View this email in your browser

Revealed: spending on levees

The UK government plans to spend £4.4bn up to 2020-21 on combating flooding and coastal erosion, and a further £1.6bn is to be stumped up by local authorities, private companies and individuals. With little fanfare, the spending data has been released, and Carbon Brief has produced some in depth analysis. Some key points:

  1. London and the South East seem to win, attracting 60 per cent of the total funding. Greenwich and Woolwich constituency, home to the Thames Barrier, will have received a total of £943m in government funding, followed by Dartford with £792m. Next on the list, Lancaster and Fleetwood, totals £114m.
  2. There’s some variance between risks and funds. As Climate Brief point out, insurers believe Boston and Skegness to be most at risk from flooding - but they are fourth for total investment with £94m.
  3. Conservative constituencies attract a total of £2603.8m in government funding for flood defences, with Labour seats trailing on £1594.8m. The Greens seem to have done well - with £81.7m, they’ve nearly got as much to defend Brighton Pavilion as will be spent on the Boston Barrier.
  4. A “rough estimate using the data available suggests that every home defended costs just under £7,000 in central government funding”.

Quick Reads

Headstart. Is the single market actually helping European economies converge? Smaller, already wealthy economies - like  Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark and Ireland - seem to have benefitted most. Centre for European Reform

In perspective. NHS England’s report on its progress against the Five Year Forward View suggests that progress is being made against key priorities - but declining spending will make the trade-offs ever more visible to the public. The Health Foundation

Shutdown. What the UK can learn from New York’s moves to close the behemoth prison at Rikers Island. Centre for Justice Innovation

Crisis fatigue. The cost of emergency humanitarian appeals is development spending and political processes that fail to prevent crises. Overseas Development Institute

No change. The government’s decision to make no big changes to the ‘English votes for English laws’ system is regrettably short-sighted. Constitution Unit

More light! In a record-breaking year, Africa doubled the amount of renewable energy plants it installed in 2016 - but Asia accounted for more than half of new capacity. Climate Action Programme


Is the blue team going green? In new polling, most Conservatives (60 per cent of this sample) accept that climate change is happening and humans caused it. They prioritise expanding the supply of renewable energy among environmental issues, followed by improving air quality and tackling climate change generally. After Brexit, they would like to at least preserve the current environmental protections found in EU law. They’d reinforce regulations over water quality, protections for wildlife and their habitats, air pollution and household waste as a priority. Bright Blue

Numbers in action. In theory, using a dashboard to govern should be a great idea - data providing lots of detail can be aggregated from lots of sources in real time. Late in 2012, the Government Digital Service created an iPad app for the Prime Minister, and 803 dashboards were active last September. But the drive towards government-by-metrics has risks. We may prioritise what is measurable and therefore presentable. We may focus on recent spikes and dips over long term trends. Most importantly, the numbers never speak for themselves - we have to understand dashboards as a type of visualisation, not as a neutral presentation of facts. Demos

Disorderly conduct. The UK will need to cooperate with the European Union to realise the benefits of climate change adaptation. For instance, to implement more renewable energy requires “system balancing resources”, so that when the wind’s not blowing the lights can be kept on with power from elsewhere. Working together on this could save us £3bn a year - while further integrating the grid could save another £10bn by 2030. However, scenario modelling of our coming negotiations to leave the EU points towards disorderly, sovereignty-based and ‘divorce’-focussed negotiations, if current trends continue. If we want to keep progressing, we need to find a way to keep cooperation alive. E3G

See also

The statistics show that people trust the statisticians, but not the politicians or the newspapers who quote them.

There is now a year’s worth of learning on how to innovate available.

Many of the changes to welfare entitlements that took effect on 6 April will affect new claimants only, which means some people will receive different amounts depending on when they first entered the system.

The Public Accounts committee was not happy about £18m in trade advice for the Department for International Trade going to waste.

A handy primer on the UK’s starting positions and red lines going into negotiations to leave the European Union.

Nesta’s “magazine of innovation, new ideas and how the world is changing” closes after a 2.5 year run.

The Information Commissioner issues £138,000 in fines to 11 charities: many “secretly screened” donors on the basis of their ability to donate, some added details not provided to them, and some traded personal details.

Think Tanks

The Institute for Policy Research and SAGE publishing have launched the Public Data Lab, a joint venture exploring ‘future of the data society’ and new ways to use public data for social science research.


Policy Officers. Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. London. £30-35k. Apply by 17 April.

Researcher (Economics). House of Lords. London. £36-43k. Apply by 24 April.

Principal Director, Policy and Advocacy. New Economics Foundation. London. £45-60k. Apply by 1 May.

Reader in Public Policy (Widening participation into higher education). Institute for Policy Research. Bath. £48-56k. Apply by 30 May.

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Compiled by Tom Jeffery
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