IPPR was the idea of Clive Hollick, who developed the idea for an independent progressive think tank in 1986. With John Eatwell, Lord Hollick spent two years establishing the institute, which was publicly launched in 1988.
Tessa Blackstone was IPPR’s first chair and the late James Cornford its first director. One of IPPR’s first reports recommended congestion charging for London, and the organisation has had real and continuing impact on policy at a national and local level ever since.
In the early 1990s, IPPR published the highly influential report of the Commission on Social Justice, chaired by Sir Gordon Borrie and its then deputy director, Patricia Hewitt. The report laid out an ambitious agenda of social policy reform that had a lasting impact on public policy debates.
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, 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; a second office was opened in Manchester in 2012.
IPPR won the prestigious Prospect Think Tank of the Year award in 2001 and in 2007 became the first repeat winner. In the late 2000s, IPPR published the findings of the influential Commission on National Security for the 21st Century, chaired by Paddy Ashdown and George Robertson.
In 2009, IPPR won the Green Think Tank of the year award for our groundbreaking work on climate change; in 2014, it won the Social Policy Think Tank of the Year award in recognition of the wide influence achieved by its landmark report, The Condition of Britain; and in 2015, IPPR won the Energy and Climate Change Think Tank of the Year award.
Later that year, in the wake of Scotland’s 2014 independence referendum and the transfer of new powers to the Scottish parliament, came the launch of IPPR Scotland, a new dedicated think tank for Scotland, based in Edinburgh.
In autumn 2016, IPPR established the landmark Commission on Economic Justice to examine the challenges facing the economy. The two-year inquiry brought together leading figures from business, trade unions and civil society, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the City of London Corporation and the general secretary of the TUC. The commissioners’ first meeting was held in 10 Downing Street.
The Commission reported in autumn 2018 and achieved broad support and media coverage for its bold proposals to fundamentally reform the UK economy. The work of the Commission is being continued and broadened by the Centre for Economic Justice – launched in early 2019.
In 2019, the year of mass climate protests around the world, IPPR was named Environment and Science think tank of the year for its work exposing the extent of global environmental breakdown. In the spring IPPR launched the cross-party Environmental Justice Commission to respond the climate crisis and put forward a Green New Deal plan for the UK.