How is policy made?

Government structures, stakeholders and the and the UK policymaking environment

The bicameral UK parliament (the House of Commons and the House of Lords) scrutinises the government, initiates and debates new, or changes to, legislation and turns ideas into policies. Although the government and parliament ultimately are responsible for agreeing the final version of a policy or piece of legislation, MPs, Ministers and Lords are only some of the actors involved in policymaking, with a wide range of stakeholders providing input, views and evidence within the policymaking process.

Policy is shaped by a range of stakeholders: 

Civil servants, committees, interest and pressure groups, lobbyists, Think Tanks, donors, academics, subject matter experts.

Policy is made in a series of stages but it is not a linear process


The stages of policymaking include: 

Agenda setting, formulation, evidence-gathering, debate, evaluation, implementation.

Two models of policymaking:
Paul Cairney conceives policymaking processes as the Policy Cycle. The policy cycle traces the stages that an idea travels through to become policy or legislation. Agenda setting, policy formulation, legitimation, implementation, evaluation, and policy maintenance (or succession or termination) are stages within that cycle. 

An alternative model is the Policy Funnel, developed by Nick Mabey and Anita Neville. This model visualises policymaking as starting with an idea that has a broad engagement base which then funnels to a narrow conclusion through the stages of public opinion, public debate, policy process, final decision, implementation and then monitoring and evaluation. As the funnel narrows, the opportunities for multiple actor engagement decrease. For example, many individuals, with diverse backgrounds, interests, and expertise, can be involved in a public debate about policy, but few can be involved in implementing it.