Control Shift cover - Demos

Feb 14, 2013 - How can a dynamic and open economy also produce good jobs, empower .... featured as one of its key themes, alongside 'fairness' and. 'freedom'. ..... premium prices, offer an incentive for the responsible and risk- managing ...
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Max Wind-Cowie is Head of the Progressive Conservatism Project at Demos.

ISBN 978-1-909037-34-2 £10 © Demos 2013

Control Shift | Max Wind-Cowie

We live in a society that has become used to nationalising risk – be it through the welfare state, the NHS or the expansion of universal public services. This shift from the personal and civic to the national has mostly been welcomed by a society that recognises its obligations to other citizens. But recent social attitudes surveys – and a growing political consensus – contribute to an impression that personal and local responsibility and agency are insufficiently rewarded. At a time of austerity, and with demographic changes leading to greater demand on the public purse, the need for a new settlement between the state, the individual and communities is needed. Control Shift is the final output of a project which was designed to reach some consensus over what ‘responsibility’ means in terms of policy – based on a series of expert roundtables, analysis of public polling and attitudinal research. It looks at what levels of personal and civic responsibility people yearn for, where such reciprocity throws up political discomfort and what might be achievable in terms of rebalancing the individual’s relationship with the state. This report makes the case for embracing so-called ‘nudge-plus’ proposals, incentivising healthy behaviour and making it easier for people to make informed decisions and take greater responsibility. By implementing ideas such as creating an independent Risk Commission, making better use of data and rewarding proactive local authorities with a community cashback scheme, the report argues that the Government can support individuals, families and communities in making better choices without being heavy-handed.

“We need a new settlement between the state, the individual and local communities…” CONTROL SHIFT Max Wind-Cowie

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This project was supported by:

Demos is Britain’s leading cross-party think tank. We produce original research, publish innovative thinkers and host thought-provoking events. We have spent 20 years at the centre of the policy debate, with an overarching mission to bring politics closer to people. Demos is now exploring some of the most persistent frictions within modern politics, especially in those areas where there is a significant gap between the intuitions of the ordinary voter and political leaders. Can a liberal politics also be a popular politics? How can policy address widespread anxieties over social issues such as welfare, diversity and family life? How can a dynamic and open economy also produce good jobs, empower consumers and connect companies to the communities in which they operate? Our worldview is reflected in the methods we employ: we recognise that the public often have insights that the experts do not. We pride ourselves in working together with the people who are the focus of our research. Alongside quantitative research, Demos pioneers new forms of deliberative work, from citizens’ juries and ethnography to social media analysis. Demos is an independent, educational charity. In keeping with our mission, all our work is available to download for free under an open access licence and all our funders are listed in our yearly accounts. Find out more at

First published in 2013 © Demos. Some rights reserved Magdalen House, 136 Tooley Street, London, SE1 2TU, UK ISBN 978 1 909037 34 2 Series design by modernactivity Typeset by Chat Noir Design, Charente Printed by Lecturis, Eindhoven Set in Gotham Rounded and Baskerville 10 Cover paper: Flora Gardenia Text paper: Munken Premium White


Open access. Some rights reserved. As the publisher of this work, Demos wants to encourage the circulation o