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Trustees choose ‘highly talented’ Carys Roberts, think tank’s chief economist, to head 40-strong team across the UK.

The UK’s leading progressive policy think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research, has appointed Carys Roberts as its new director.

Ms Roberts, currently IPPR’s chief economist and head of the organisation’s Centre for Economic Justice, will take up her new post next month (February).

She worked on much of the policy research and analysis that informed the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice, and on its influential final report Prosperity and Justice: A plan for the new economy, published in September 2018.

She has led IPPR’s Centre for Economic Justice since it was launched last year, heading up her team’s work on subjects ranging from wealth taxation to the impact of automation on women in the workplace. Under her leadership the Centre has run a programme of public engagement events to discuss economic justice, across the regions and in all four nations of the UK.

Ms Roberts will build on the work of her predecessor, Tom Kibasi, who set up the Commission on Economic Justice and led during last year’s launch of IPPR’s cross-party Environmental Justice Commission.

Jess Search, chair of IPPR’s trustees, said:

“The chance to lead the UK’s leading progressive think tank at such a vital juncture for the country attracted a competitive range of excellent candidates.

“However, Carys Roberts stood out as a leading light among a new generation of young and highly talented thinkers who are shaping the progressive debate for a new decade. She has seized the opportunity to develop rapidly at IPPR, excelling as a researcher, writer, communicator, manager and leader. The board of trustees are excited to see her star continue to rise as the next Executive Director, and look forward to her leadership producing more new ideas from IPPR, and even greater impact.”

Lord John Eatwell, president of Queens’ College and emeritus professor of financial policy, University of Cambridge – who as a trustee and one of IPPR’s original founders was among the interview panel for all short-listed candidates - said:

"A first-class policy economist in charge of IPPR - what is there not to like? Carys has the ideal skills - and mixture of skills - to ensure that IPPR makes creative and practical contributions to policy development in these uncertain times.”

Mariana Mazzucato, professor in the economics of innovation and public value at University College, London, and founding director of its Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, who is also an IPPR trustee, said:

“I am thrilled that Carys will lead IPPR in its next phase. Her work on the Commission on Economic Justice proved her solid understanding of economics and wisdom on how to communicate ideas in effective, high impact ways. It is exactly these skills that IPPR needs to nurture in all its areas of work, and this infused with Carys’ dynamic leadership will be priceless.”

Carys Roberts, IPPR’s new Director, said:

“I’m hugely excited and proud to be given the opportunity to lead IPPR’s talented team across the UK at this crucial moment for public policy and the country.

The UK is going through major upheaval as it enters the new decade and as we leave the EU. Old political alignments are being reshaped, with all major parties looking for fresh ideas.

“Meanwhile, policy and politics face a series of deep-rooted crises. Most of the public want significant changes in how the economy is run, and for whose benefit; the climate crisis and wider environmental breakdown demand decisive action; and austerity has left local government and public services weakened. At the same time, we face deep divides, and inequalities in who holds power in our democracy.

“There has never been a more vital time for bold and compelling ideas built on rigorous research and strong engagement with communities, and there is no better organisation than IPPR to lead this task.

“Our cross-party Environmental Justice Commission will set out an ambitious programme of changes needed to tackle the climate crisis. Our rigorous research on housing, the health service, migration and the welfare state provides practical solutions to knotty problems. Our flagship initiative, the Centre for Economic Justice, is leading public debate on creating a fair and prosperous economy.

“Our dedicated team at IPPR North is producing solutions to some of the widest geographic inequalities in Europe and setting out how power can be shared beyond Westminster, while IPPR Scotland is working on practical, progressive ideas for a better Scotland.

“IPPR is the only think tank with a presence and reach across the UK. I look forward to working with our civil society partners everywhere, and with all parties at all levels of government, for a stronger, greener and fairer economy and society.”



  1. IPPR, the Institute for Public Policy Research, was founded in 1988 to provide a source of progressive ideas as an alternative to existing free-market think tanks.
  2. Ms Roberts, 30, is a first class Oxford graduate and also holds a masters degree from the London School of Economics. She is an experienced writer and broadcaster and has been lead editor of IPPR’s academic journal, Progressive Review, since 2016. She joined IPPR in 2015 after four years in the voluntary sector working in economics, impact assessment and programme management. Soon after arriving at IPPR she relaunched its Women’s Group and has championed efforts to increase diversity.
  3. As IPPR’s director, she will lead more than 40 staff across its offices in London, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
  4. Previous director Tom Kibasi led IPPR from mid-2016, and both founded and chaired the Commission for Economic Justice. He left at the end of last year (2019) but will continue to serve as an unpaid member of IPPR’s Environmental Justice Commission, as an advisory board member to IPPR’s Better Health and Care programme, and to support IPPR’s work in other areas.
  5. Other former IPPR directors are James Cornford, Gerald Holtham, Matthew Taylor, Lisa Harker, Carey Oppenheim, and Nick Pearce. Information about IPPR’s current staff and trustees can be found at
  6. IPPR is the UK’s leading progressive think tank with more than 40 staff. It is an independent charitable organisation with its main UK base in London. IPPR North, its dedicated think tank for the North of England, operates out of offices in Manchester and Newcastle, while IPPR Scotland, its dedicated think tank for Scotland, is based in Edinburgh – making IPPR the UK’s only think tank with a truly national presence.
  7. IPPR’s primary purpose is to conduct and promote research into the economic and political sciences, science and technology, the voluntary sector and social enterprise, and to educate the public in these. Other purposes include to advance physical and mental health, the efficiency of public services and environmental protection or improvement, and to relieve poverty, unemployment or the number of those in need by reason of youth, age, ill health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantage.