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.
The House of Commons
The 650 MPs elected by voters in the UK sit in the House of Commons to represent their constituents. MPs can propose new legislation, debate proposed legislation, and scrutinise government policies and actions.
The House of Lords
786 appointed or hereditary peers sit in the House of Lords. Lords scrutinise legislation, debate proposals and bills, and help to shape policy.
Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have their own legislatures and shape their own laws and policies on a range of issues. Some issues remain the preserve of Westminster, such as foreign policy.
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.
- The Policy Cycle: Conceived by Paul Cairney, 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.
- 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.