Press release

Government launches competition to find a commercial partner for the Behavioural Insights Team

The Behavioural Insights Team, also known as the Nudge Unit, is the first policy unit to spin off from central government.

The government’s Behavioural Insights Team will take its first step to becoming a profit-making joint venture today as the Cabinet Office launches a competition to find a commercial partner for the business. Less than three years after it was set up in the Cabinet Office the team is the first policy unit set to spin off from central government. This has been employee-led as the staff of the BIT have driven the process and will continue to run the organisation.

The team was established to find ways of encouraging, supporting and enabling people to make better choices for themselves. Since then it has delivered rapid results - identifying tens of millions of pounds of savings, spreading understanding of behavioural approaches within government, and developing a reputation as a world leader in its field. Demand for its services from within government, the private sector and foreign governments has grown significantly.

As a joint venture, the new business will be a collaboration between the government, the employees and a third party partner, which will bring additional commercial capability and investment. The government, and ultimately the taxpayer, will benefit from growth in the business.

The government is committed to encouraging and supporting new commercial models for public services across central government and the wider public sector. This involves a diverse range of models such as joint ventures and mutuals. The announcement last week of the SWIRL contract, last year’s spin-out of MyCSP in central government and the 3BM mutual joint venture coming out of Hammersmith and Fulham are examples of the success that this agenda is having.

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said:

We are in a global race for the jobs and opportunities of the future. To get Britain back on the rise we must find innovative models like mutuals and joint ventures, which can deliver services better and more efficiently, while supporting growth in the economy.

The Behavioural Insights Team is world-renowned and under a joint venture business model we will combine the benefits of private sector experience and investment with the innovation and commitment from staff leadership to develop a sustainable growth business.

Public sector productivity flat-lined from 1997 to 2010. We are on the side of people who want to work hard and get on and that’s why we are determined to set free the legions of entrepreneurs in the public sector and help them run their work in the ways they know best”.

Notes to editors:

  • This joint venture is a key example of driving innovation in government commercial models – a central commitment in the Civil Service Reform Plan.
  • More widely, there are already over 70 mutuals delivering over £1 billion of public services. Mutuals are developing in services as diverse as healthcare, libraries, and fire and rescue.

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