Our history

IPPR was launched in 1988, with the aim of generating and researching alternative, progressive policy ideas, after a long period in which the UK’s political discourse had been powerfully shaped by a cohort of right-of-centre and ‘free market’ policy institutions.

Over more than three decades since, IPPR has worked to ensure that ideas that once seemed impossible have become reality. From making the early case for the minimum wage and taking regional inequality to the top of the agenda, to proposing a windfall tax on energy companies, our research and policy work has put forward practical solutions for the crises facing society - to enable justice, progress and change.

An early milestone was the report of the Commission on Social Justice in 1993, which laid out an ambitious agenda of social policy reform, and had a lasting impact on public policy debates. Since then, IPPR research and thinking have influenced politicians on all sides, built understanding of some of the most challenging issues we face, and helped to shift public debate.

In 2004, IPPR North was launched to lead work on devolution and regional inequality and connect our work more deeply with people of the towns and cities too often been neglected by national policymakers. Its regular ‘State of the North’ reports shine a powerful spotlight on the issues involved. A decade later came the launch of IPPR Scotland, with the aim of shaping progressive policy north of the border as increasing powers were transferred to the Scottish parliament.

Also in 2014, IPPR’s widely acclaimed Condition of Britain report set out a comprehensive agenda for reforming the state, and social policy to enable renewal, in the face of economically challenging times.

More recent landmarks have included the Commission on Economic Justice, a two-year inquiry to examine the challenges faced by the economy, which 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. Its 2018 final report won broad support for its bold proposals to fundamentally reform the UK economy, and is still shaping debate today.

IPPR’s cross-party Environmental Justice Commission was established to respond to the climate crisis and put forward a Green New Deal plan for the UK to move to net zero. Its influential report, designed to secure public support for the transition because it put fairness at its heart, was published in 2021. A further IPPRCommission on Health and Prosperity is currently under way.

Throughout IPPR’s history, the Institute has meanwhile incubated and launched a series of practical initiatives to test and demonstrate our ideas in practice, including Frontline, Think Ahead, The Difference and most recently Workwhile. We also incubated Centre for Cities, which became independent in 2007.

Across the decades, generations of IPPR leaders, researchers and communicators have helped to transform the climate of ideas and propose practical policies to put them into effect, work which continues today. Our alumni community have gone on to work at the highest levels of the media, government, parliament, business and civil society organisations.