Government urged to reinstate senior social scientist post

24 May 2012

Campaign logo

The Government was warned today (Thursday 24 May) that it will miss out on receiving the best advice on its policies if it fails to restore a senior social scientific post because of cost-cutting.

The Campaign for Social Science has urged the restoration of the post of Chief Social Science Advisor, which was removed in 2010 when the role was downgraded and split between two people who also have other responsibilities.

The Campaign for Social Science made its case in 2011 to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, which issued a report last February calling for the post to be reinstated.

The Government recently responded to the Committee’s report, saying that it has given “careful consideration to the idea of a Chief Social Scientist alongside a range of different options for ensuring robust and independent social scientific advice. This involves weighing up the potential benefits against the resource implications of different options.”

The Campaign for Social Science welcomes the Government’s consideration, but says the importance of the role outweighs any small savings made by removing it.

“While all positions must be cost-justified, social science affects so much policy and practice relating to how we live our lives that the benefits case should be straightforward and compelling to make,” said a spokesperson.

“It is important that any appointment is at a level to convey authority and gain access to ministers. The opportunity of a senior appointment should not be lost for only a very marginal saving of expenditure.”

In its February report the Lords committee stated: “Given the all-pervasive importance of social science advice to policy-making in all departments, we remain of the view that at the earliest opportunity the Government should appoint a Chief Social Scientist…to ensure the provision of robust and independent social advice.”