Policy-making for the long term

The Rt Hon David Heath CBE, chair of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) Policy Advisory Group and Kalpana Shah, IFoA President, are urging UK policymakers to focus on a long-term approach.

As the UK party conference season kicks off, the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries has released a new policy prospectus which makes the case for an increased focus on long-term policymaking in the UK.

A range of factors, from Brexit to COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine, have hampered the Government’s ability to think about the long-term in recent years. As long-term risk modellers, the actuarial profession is concerned that without a strategic re-focusing on the big picture challenges that society faces, the UK risks sleepwalking into another period of inaction.

Beyond the Next Parliament’ draws attention to the effects of short-termism and suggests an alternative approach to ensure a longer time horizon is considered in the policymaking process. It provides an assessment of the various structural and behavioural barriers that prevent longer thinking in UK policymaking. The report highlights the enormous benefits that long-term policy making can provide to the state, the individual and wider society for the benefit of the public interest.

“This report is both timely and necessary,” says Heath. “Actuaries are experts in long-term risk management across several key sectors and take a rigorous, dispassionate and meticulous approach to their work. They are right to lay down this challenge to all politicians to recognise the need to scan more distant horizons.

“We understand that fire-fighting and planning for long-term resilience are not easy to do at the same time. But societal issues such as population health, social care, climate change and resource management are in urgent need of a head-on approach and a recognition that driving effective solutions will go well beyond the parliamentary term.”

Shah adds: “The certainty that long-term policymaking can provide has been missing, but the benefits it can bring to the state, the individual and wider society are immeasurable. Improved horizon scanning, risk profiling, resilience and anticipation of future threats are equally welcome by-products. As we draw nearer to the next UK general election, there is a golden opportunity to reset the policy agenda, with a focus on the long term, no matter who gains the keys to 10 Downing Street.”

“We want to encourage politicians and policymakers to focus on the long term, not just the next parliamentary term. We acknowledge that there are big political, economic and structural barriers to doing so. But the prize for overcoming them is greater and future generations will thank us for our foresight.”