When we set up Reform Scotland last March, one of the guests at the launch party made the comment ‘Think Tanks are talking shops that produce academic research of no practical value.’ This report demonstrates that Reform Scotland has added value not only in the quality of its evidence-based research and daily news updates but also through becoming actively engaged in promoting change that we believe will create a stronger Scotland in the future.
During the last year we have produced six papers in our ‘empower’ series of reports. These reports have covered the economy, public sector spending, local government, criminal justice, fiscal powers and education. In each report we have reviewed the position in Scotland and compared it to models in other countries. We have then set out firm recommendations which are reproduced later in this annual report. We also provide a daily email news service, read by some one thousand people, which provides headlines of news that affects the Scottish economy and public services.
Overall, our papers have been well received as a useful contribution to policy debate. Our paper on fiscal powers, for instance, has been quoted in the latest government paper on the National Conversation and we have also given evidence to the Calman Commission. Our paper on education has helped to raise the debate on choice and highlighted the need to extend opportunity to the most disadvantaged in our society. Our recommendations on elected mayors and greater tax raising powers for local government have demonstrated the need to move away from the highly centralised nature of government in the UK. These are just some of the examples of where Reform Scotland has added to the debate.
It is not just the research we produce, but also the promotion of the recommendations we make. In the last year, Reform Scotland has contributed towards some 100 newspaper articles as well as making contributions to TV and radio programmes. We have met with all the major political parties and have a cross-party Political Engagement Forum which helps to ensure that we can communicate with all politicians. We have also held events and lectures to bring the business, media and other communities together with policymakers. This activity has been enhanced by our Advisory Board which has been particularly helpful in ensuring that our message reaches a broad range of people in Scotland.
Therefore, we can take pride in what we have achieved this year – it has exceeded all my expectations. It has been a tremendous effort by Geoff Mawdsley and his team, the Board of Trustees and the Advisory Board. It would also not have been possible without the generous support of the many individuals who contributed charitable donations to Reform Scotland. Thank you for your support and I hope that we continue to prove that we can add value over the coming years.
Chairman, Reform Scotland