The Bank of England will this year set up new “economic juries” in its efforts to broaden public engagement and repair the battered reputation of economic institutions.
The initiative will see a set of "regional citizens' councils" brought together by the Bank’s agents, who already carry out regular surveys of companies which inform monetary policy.
The unorthodox departure for the normally conservative central bank was decided last week at the top level of the Bank, and has the blessing of governor Mark Carney. The juries will aim to be representative of the British public, although the Bank has yet to decide the precise details.
Andy Haldane, the Bank’s chief economist, said the juries will provide “a new lens on the economy’s hidden corners, a new set of often-quieter voices to listen to and learn from”.
The Bank’s actions were prompted by a report into UK citizens’ lack of economic empowerment by the influential RSA (the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), which recommended the juries.
The Bank has already pressured the government to make economics a compulsory part of the school curriculum, sending a letter to the Department of Education last month saying it is necessary for a “strong educational foundation in economics and finance”.
Haldane, speaking this evening at the launch of the RSA’s report, said his efforts to listen to a broader array of voices had revealed problems with some of the economic narratives told by the Bank, such as an economic “recovery” at the UK national level which was in fact concentrated in just two regions: London and the South East.
He said the Bank will use the information from the juries “to support the economy and the citizen stakeholders that make it up”, by improving trust in the Bank, the “secret sauce” through which it can influence the economy.
Tony Greenham, the RSA's director of economics, said: “Public policy, especially in central government, can be bedeviled by group-think and the wisdom of citizens can break this apart.
“There is a long, long, way to go to restore public trust in economics, which is exactly why it's right that the Bank is making this important step forward.”