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Most policy fails. The more complex the challenge the more likely the failure. At the Royal Society of Arts, we think hard about how to improve the success rate. We have concluded that policy suffers from different, but often reinforcing problems; on the one hand it’s too scatter gun, and on the other it’s too path dependent. Our response is captured in the injunction to policy makers to ‘think like a system and act like an entrepreneur’.

So when the Prime Minister asked me to Chair a Review of Modern Employment it was an exciting opportunity to apply that approach. Although we are only around half way through the Review’s life, I am hoping that the structure of our final report will speak to a different way of thinking about change.

We will, of course, make specific recommendations for concrete immediate reform of the kind people expect from a Government Review. These will inter alia cover employment status, employee engagement and the enforcement of rights. We will try to bring greater fairness and clarity to a system which can seem arbitrary, exploitative and opaque.

But perhaps more importantly, addressing aspects of the labour market systemically, will be a set of strategic shifts that we will urge the Government to pursue over the next five to ten years. These shifts will be complicated and emergent so our aim is to describe destinations not to define the precise route. They include the case for a fairer, more coherent and sustainable way of taxing work along with the need for Government to enhance the entitlements and services available to the self- employed, both directly and by working with commercial and third sector partners. But the shifts we are likely to advocate also range from a commonly agreed spine of generic employability skills, which can then be overlaid on apprenticeships, university courses, in-work training and lifelong learning, to expanding the focus of Government intervention from simply getting people into work to keeping them in work (when, for example, workers’ care or health needs changing) and helping them progress.

But there will also be a third vital aspect to the Review, an example of a more opportunistic, tactical, way of pursuing change. As many studies, including a recent report by the Centre for Public Impact, have suggested, legitimacy is a key ingredient of success. In essence my Review is about how to improve the quality of work in our economy. But is this yet a goal to which Government, let alone the wider public subscribe?

When I was a Downing Street adviser in the mid-noughties the principle of ‘work first’ was firmly entrenched in Whitehall. Any attempt to question an unerring focus on employment (of any kind) as the priority was treated with disdain. But things have changed. The rise of in-work poverty shows that having a job is not enough to ensure economic security. As countless media exposes attest, the prevalence of ‘wage slavery’ – workers denied voice or control – sits uneasily with our modern expectations of respect, recognition and autonomy. Add in the evidence that bad work is deleterious to other key goals such as improving public health and productivity, then top it off with concerns about the impact on jobs of automation, and the case becomes overwhelming for adding quality to quantity of work as a core policy goal.

For the Review to have momentum that case needs to turn into a settled consensus. Which is why I will be using my RSA annual lecture in May to launch a national aspiration; namely, ‘all work should be fair and decent with scope for development and fulfilment’. Such an aspiration may be treated with equal disdain by those on the left who assume it to be impossible in a capitalist economy and those on the right who will see it as dangerous license to interfere with the natural workings of the market. But I am hoping just about everyone between will see good work for all as a policy goal built on strong economic, social and ethical grounds.

Government Reviews are too often set up to respond to a political challenge and then largely forgotten as the world moves on. One good aspect of the recent bruising NICS row is that the Employment Review has high profile. The wise thing now would probably be to dampen expectations. Instead I’m planning to raise them. I’d love your help.

Matthew Taylor is Chief Executive of the RSA and Chair of the Government’s Review of Modern Employment. This is an article from Bright Blue’s magazine The robotic revolution published before the general election.