Challenges to policy implementation


            Policy scientists have advanced the notion that there is a marked difference between working of governmental institutions and the formal policies stipulating their functions. This difference can be traced in the implementation phase of the regulatory policies (Fox & Bayat, 2006). Consequently, the policy process can be divided into two: the political/ administrative function and the institutional/managerial function. This provides two levels of argument as the sources of policy implementation impediments (Guy & Pierre 2007). For instance, the UK health system is only 15% funded by the private sector, a figure that includes subscriptions from patients in medication. It is an example of a component of the public policy implementation constantly under monitoring. It was marred with long waiting lists until an increase in the funding by the government mitigated the situation. However, there are still complaints leveled against the NHS due to clinical need criterion in accessing treatment (Uday 2002). In addition, the policies that got the former administration elected are illustrated as incomplete due to numerous complaints of poor nursing standards. A question arises on where to place the blame in the differential in effects and success of the above modifications in the NHS.


            Institutional and political factors are accredited with the slow and impeded implementation of administrative policies in Britain. In this context, the institutional factors are representative of financial, legal and economical factors while the political factors depict the leadership aspects. The contrast between the roles is exhibited by the reluctant and haphazard approach towards environmental problems in spite of the facts that Britain had one of the oldest environmental laws in the world and was one of the first countries to create agencies dealing with the issue of environmental awareness (Davies 2007). The genuine concerns on the environmental issue have been overshadowed by the political concerns to appease vested interests arising from industries, farmers and rural landowners. A contrasting argument emphasizes the administration’s sincerity that is watered down by malfunctioning institutions.

This can be illustrated further by the NHS where the institution is facing financial pressure due to increasing demands relative to its 5.5% annual increase in provisionary budget, even though the balance sheet liabilities are meant to increase given the adoption of the IFRS accounting system in Britain that started in 2009. In addition, the implementation of policies in the NHS suffers a set back from the critical social component especially through the media. The media is liable to polarizing the public regarding the performance of the NHS even when public survey’s indicate high levels of satisfaction from the public (Wurzel, 2006). Thus implementation of polices can be deterred from the political purview or from the institutional part of it.

The inability of the administration to steer independently, policy implementation in critical areas has translated to creation of numerous quasi-government autonomous bodies to deal with the issues such as environmental degradation. Even though the administration has done its part, it can be argued that the quasi-government bodies are slow to speak on issues of environmental degradation – for instance, the NCC and the Countryside Commissions. These groups reacted reluctantly to the destruction of the sites of natural interest through farming and forestry activities. The problem was attributed to the appointed leaders who were career civil servants drawn from forestry industries (Fox & Bayat, 2006). The argument revolves around the administrations role in empowering the quasi government organization both economically and legally.

In areas such as environmental control, the administration has been fast in setting up institutions triggered by political pressure. An initiative of this nature has the disadvantage of minimal commitment since it is a ‘fire fighting’ mechanism. Another critic leveled against the political administration is the “command and control” mechanism where the government sets up the standards for environmental compliance and the stakeholders are commanded to obey. This implies high costs in enforcement that is restricted by a constrained budget. However, the administration can be justified by the bulk of other agendas demanding attention such as foreign policy, economical issues and defense (Brainard, 2006). Ultimately, the delicate balance between national agendas is not properly managed giving rise to stalled policy implementation procedures.

On the other hand, the administration is not liable but the devolvement of responsibility and governance in UK. For instance, the local authorities are primarily accountable for environmental protection but the larger portion of the population is focused on the national politics, leaving little accountability at the local level (Ball, 2006). This contributes to ineffective implementation of the formulated policies. Institutional factors have been critical in stalling policy implementation and increasing critique to policies unfriendly to capitalistic expansion. For instance, the New Environmental Policy Instruments (NEPIs) which emerged in the last decade aimed at reducing the costs of monitoring and enforcement while at the same time increasing the environmental effectiveness. The implementation of the instruments has been hindered by the objections stemming from the decrease in innovation as resources are siphoned from research towards compliance of simpler solutions (Adams & Robinson, 2002). Consequently, in as much as the government formulates policies addressing pressing needs, their implementation can be hindered by minimal cooperation from other stakeholders or the politicization of implementation.


            The question of impeded implementation of policies can be ascribed inductively to both the political and institutional factors. In the case of environmental policies implementation, it is evident that creation of a quasi-government organization to address regulation issues necessitates the supplementary financial and economic empowering of the organization. The institutional factors of policy implementation in addition warrant greater monitoring, where they should be shielded from politicization by the administration. Eventually the administration’s failure to depoliticize policy formulation and implementation is the primary cause of slow and impeded policy implementation.



Adams J. & Robinson P. (2002). Devolution in practice: public policy differences within the UK. London: Institute for Public Policy Research.

Ball D. (2006). Environmental health policy. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Benjamin S. & Paterson M. (2000). Direct action in British environmentalism illustrated. London: Routledge.

Brainard G. P. (2006). Handbook of public policy, London: Sage Publishers.

Briassoulis H. (2005). Policy integration for complex environmental problems: the example of Mediterranean desertification. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Davies P. (2007). The NHS in the UK: a pocket guide 2007/08. London, NHS Confederation.

Guy B. P. & Pierre J. (2007). Handbook of public administration. Los Angeles: SAGE.

Greer S. L. (2009). Territorial politics and health policy: UK health policy in comparative perspective. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Fox W. M. & Bayat S. I. (2006). A guide to managing public policy. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Hill M. & Hupe P. (2009) .Implementing public policy: an introduction to the study of operational governance Hill. London: SAGE Corporation.

Wurzel R. K. (2006). Environmental policy-making in Britain, Germany and the European. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Uday D. (2002). Environmental politics and policy in industrialized countries. Cambridge: MIT Press.

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