Our History

Reform was conceived in the autumn of 2001 and was formally established at the beginning of 2002. Since then, Reform has grown in size and in impact.  What has not changed, however, is its focus on the improvement of public services for all and achieving value for money.


After the 2001 General Election, Nick Herbert, Reform’s first Director, and Andrew Haldenby canvassed support for an independent think tank to challenge the idea that increasing public spending, and taxation, was the only way to improve public services. They received their first donation in the December of that year.

Front cover of Reform's first publication

Reform’s formal launch was followed by its first publication on the then Government’s fiscal plans, Spending without reform. Its first journal included articles by Frank Field MP and David Laws MP.

Front cover of Reform's Back to Black paper

The study Back to black began the debate on public spending reductions that went on to dominate politics through to the 2015 General Election.

Newspaper clipping of article titled; This man could ruin Britain for the middle class

Reform’s proposal to means test Child Benefit was not universally popular. Nevertheless the Chancellor announced it at the October Conservative Party conference.

The suggestion from the normally sensible Reform think-tank that so-called ‘middle-class benefits’ should be eliminated from the welfare state is as welcome as a bucket of cold porridge
— Patrick O’Flynn

Newspaper clipping of Andrew Haldenby's piece in The Times

The Coalition Government protected nearly half of all public spending from reductions.

Reform has consistently argued that there are opportunities to improve value in all budgets, and so ring-fencing is the wrong policy.

The Coalition may have lost one priceless legacy in the battle of ideas: that the quality of public services does not solely depend on the amount spent on them.
— Andrew Haldenby


Reform ended 2017 with a burst of activity, including six government ministers and two Shadow Ministers, speaking for Reform.

Reform report Thinking on its own: AI in the NHS

In January Reform published its report examining how artificial intelligence could help the NHS become more efficient and deliver better outcomes for patients. It became its highest-read report of 2018.

2018 also saw Reform continue to develop its thinking on innovation and technology in public services more generally, along with other key issues.


Reform is continuing its work to push the public policy debate forward to deliver better and smarter public services for all.