Updated Jul 2014


IPPR was the brainchild of Clive Hollick, who developed the idea for an independent progressive thinktank in 1986. With John Eatwell, Lord Hollick spent two years establishing the institute, which was publicly launched in 1988 with Tessa Blackstone as its first chair and the late James Cornford as its first director.

One of our first reports recommended congestion charging for London and IPPR has been having real impact on policy at a national and local level ever since.

In the early 1990s, we published the highly influential report of the Commission on Social Justice, chaired by Sir Gordon Borrie and IPPR’s then deputy director, Patricia Hewitt. It laid out an ambitious agenda of social policy reform that had a lasting impact on public policy debates.

IPPR's profile grew under the directorships of Gerald Holtham (1994–1998), Matthew Taylor (1999–2003) and Nick Pearce (2003–07), with Chris Powell serving for much of this time as chair. During these years, IPPR led thinking on devolution, elected mayors, family-friendly working, asset-based welfare, and public service reform. IPPR North was established in 2004, with an office opening in Newcastle.

IPPR was the winner of the prestigious Prospect Think Tank of the Year award in 2001 and in 2007 became the first repeat winner.

Lisa Harker and Carey Oppenheim later took over as co-directors (2007–2010). Among the notable achievements of that period was the highly influential Commission on National Security for the 21st Century, chaired by Paddy Ashdown and George Robertson.

In 2009, IPPR turned 21 and won the Green Think Tank of the year award for its ground breaking work on climate change.

John Makinson, chairman and chief executive of the Penguin Group, served as chair of IPPR from 2007 until 2010, when former work and pensions secretary James Purnell took over, marking his return to IPPR, where he had worked as researcher nearly 20 years earlier.

Nick Pearce returned as director in September 2010, and IPPR moved to its current London offices in Buckingham Street.  

Since then IPPR has been growing, with new projects starting, extra research staff taken on, an increasing media profile, and a new IPPR North office opening in Manchester.

In early 2013, IPPR launched a flagship programme of work called The Condition of Britain focusing on how British society has changed in recent decades and can be strengthened during tough times.

In February 2013, James Purnell stood down as chair of IPPR to take up the position of director of strategy and digital at the BBC. Former cabinet minister Andrew Adonis took up the role of chair shortly after.

In April 2014, we launched our latest major programme, New Skills at Work, exploring employment, unemployment and labour market challenges across Europe, as part of an international programme of work.

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