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Informing and enhancing public life

We are dedicated to informing and enhancing public life by using Brunel research to solve problems and help decision-makers arrive at better solutions. We seek to do this in many different ways:

  • We actively demonstrate the policy-relevance of our world-leading research. Our policy briefings help public bodies see how our research can enhance the work they do, whether that’s related to public health, procurement, election regulation or a myriad of other areas.

  • We offer policy support, showing how our research can help public bodies with sophisticated techniques and methods, evaluative tools and so on. 

  • We engage with enquiries from public and third sector bodies who are seeking policy advice or support in particular areas, and who wish to draw on our extensive expertise

  • As a civic University, we are dedicated to supporting our local communities. We help do this by running events from which the whole community can benefit

Policy Briefs

Religious networks: impact on SDGs and the challenges for the international legal order

There is an urgent need to better recognize and integrate the significant involvementof faith-based actors in development initiatives through effective policy-driven responses. These responses require novel and inventive engagement strategies, andthe development of a coordinated effort.

Urgent action is required by G20 leaders to

  • Develop a permanent engagement group on religion and sustainable development;
  • Task the group with consolidating the emerging and existing metrics to identifyhow faith-based communities present challenges and opportunities for achievingthe SDGs;
  • Task the group to establish agreed strategies for the mutual respect, cooperation,and harmonization of faith-based organizations’ activities to meet the SDGs; and
  • Task the group to develop a particular thematic focus on SDG 8 (Decent Work andEconomic growth), SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities), and SDG 16 (Peace, Justice, andStrong Institutions)

    More recommendations: Read the policy brief 

Decarbonising the energy system: new digital infrastructure

Professor Taylor’s research project on Smart Grid data exchange betweenTransmission System Operators (TSO) and Distribution System Operators (DSO)defines new information systems tools and techniques which improve:

  • Scalability: the ability to deal with the new users and increasingly largervolumes of data involved in lower carbon energy technologies
  • Security: protection against external threats and attacks, and
  • Interoperability: the ability for new applications and processes to be easilyintegrated with a ‘plug in and play’ approach, based on open standards

Read the whole document to find out more. 

Racial diversity initiatives in UK film and TV

Professor Malik and Dr Clive Nwonka examined the evaluation and outcomes of significant racial diversity initiatives in UK film and TV. They found that:

  • Organisations are reluctant to be transparent about the impact of their diversity plans, so there is an absence of reliable data and monitoring of specific diversity initiatives.

  • Fluid terminology and data categorisation makes it difficult to discern the targets and outcomes of diversity initiatives. In particular, the term ‘BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) is a broad category which does not make the nuanced experiences of different ethnic and cultural groups visible.

  • Available data also does not capture how experience varies with intersectionality, work area, seniority or geographical location.

  • Lack of space for direct testimonies from ethnic minority groups has limited understandings of the barriers to achieving diversity

  • There was an unwillingness to address structural discriminatory practices such as in funding awards or recruitment methods. 

Read the whole document to find out more. 

Overcoming barriers to vaccination and citizens' deliberate choices

This work was supported by a British Academy grant as part of the 'Covid-19 Recovery' initiative. Dr Manu Savani was a co-Investigator, alongside colleagues at LSE, Kings College London, University of Toronto and Dartmouth College.

Authors conducted a large, cross-country survey of the G7 nations, to better understand vaccination outcomes and their drivers. Based on representative samples collected over Jan-Feb 2022, they report:

  • 13% of people remain unvaccinated across the G7. The vast majority of them say they do not want to receive the vaccine (87%), rather than it being difficult to access, indicating it is becoming harder to persuade the unvaccinated at this stage of the pandemic.  

  • Trust in Covid vaccines is reasonably high, at 78% across the G7. But lower in France (67%) and the US (71%); and highest in Italy (85%) and the UK (85%), 

  • Women trust the vaccine less than men. 75% of women say they trust the vaccine compared to 81% of men across the G7. Trust amongst women is lowest in France (where only 62% of women say they trust the vaccine) and the US (65%), and highest in the UK (84%)  

  • Most people identified public health professionals (their doctor or health care provider) as the figure they trusted most to decide whether to have a COVID-19 vaccine or a booster. This was particularly true for older respondents. 

  • People who rely on social media as the primary source of COVID-19 news were less trusting of the vaccine and less likely to be vaccinated

Read the Summary Report to find out more. 

Research findings on class and the working actor

The working class is under-represented in the creative industries, a gap that is researched through authentic voices of working-class actors on screen.

Key findings are:

  • The actors interviewed struggled to raise the funds to enter acting school.

  • Those sustaining an early career face further challenges:

    • Non-acting jobs pay poorly but are needed ‘between roles’
    • There is competition between day jobs and acting roles to attend auditions
    • On-going training and registration for Spotlight (essential for job-seeking) is expensive.
    • The acting profession is London-centric, disadvantaging those on low-incomes outside London and the South-East

Read more here

Research findings on banking sector risk, competition and capital

This work furnishes evidence on a number of unresolved issues in financial stability analysis.

Read the brief here.

Synergies and trade-offs between SDGs at the sub-national scale

This document is the second of two project briefs developed as part of the ‘'Living laboratories for achieving sustainable development goals across national and sub-national scales' (known for short as the ‘Luanhe Living Lab’) project, funded by NERC (UK), NSFC (China) and JST (Japan). The aim of the research was to provide scientifically-grounded, policy-relevant information on the synergies and trade-offs between selected sustainable development goals and targets within the Luanhe River Basin in China. This policy brief is targeted at the international research and policy-making community.

Read the brief here.  

Social cash transfers, generational relations and youth poverty trajectories

This three-year collaborative research project has generated evidence about the ways in which social cash transfer (SCT) schemes intervene in and transform the structural power relations that underlie the reproduction of poverty. 

Read more here. 


Written Evidence

Human Rights of Asylum Seekers in the UK: Dr Ermioni Xanthopoulou and Dr Mohammad Nayyer

Dr Ermioni Xanthopoulou and Dr Mohammad Nayyeri submitted a written evidence responding to the following questions: Is it compatible with the UK’s human rights obligations to deny asylum to those who do not use what the Government calls “safe and legal routes”?  Is the policy of relocating asylum seekers to third countries consistent with the UK’s human rights obligations?

Their major finfings are:

  • The UK has explicit obligations under international law towards refugees arriving inthe UK, and the limited resettlement programmes do not remove or exhaust thoseobligations.
  • The narrow understanding of safe and legal routes that only recognises settlementschemes, while treating other asylum seekers as ‘illegal’ and denying them access toasylum, is incompatible with the UK’s human rights obligations.
  • The relocation of asylum seekers to third countries is not consistent with severalhuman rights and refugee laws that the UK is bound to respect.
  • The current law raises serious legality issues with regard to its retroactive applicationand its compatibility with the principle of non-refoulement, prohibition of torture orinhumane or degrading treatment, prohibition on collective expulsions, right toasylum, prohibition of penalisation.
  • It is proposed that the current relocation agreement is revised.


Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and the blockchain: Dr Monomita Nandy

In response to the non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and the blockchain Inquiry, authors provide written evidence on the four questions raised by the DCMS. 

Major recommendations are: 

  • An intervention of regulation will allow the individual in the NFT market not only to get richer on paper but also to create utility when they belong to an exclusive community.
  • If the exclusive communities are built following certain regulation, then there is a higher possibility to generate higher utilities for the society through NFT trading.             




Economics of music streaming (follow-up): Dr Hayleigh Bosher

In July 2021, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (House of Commons) published our Report on the Economics of music streaming, which called for a “complete reset” of the streaming market. On 15 November 2022, the committee held an oral evidence session to discuss the reset of streaming recommended in the July 2021 Report, including Dr Hayleigh Bosher (Brunel University London).

The report has two main recommendations:

  • The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) needs to provide more transparency with its working groups, which should also consider, and give greater focus to, remuneration and rights revocation.
  • The Government should take a more proactive strategic role when it comes to cultural policy, including regarding music, to ensure it takes a cohesive approach across all departments in supporting cultural production and the creative industries. A new wide ranging national strategy for music should be developed by the DCMS Department.

Read the report 

Technological innovations and climate change: onshore solar energy: Professor Hussam Jouhara

In this written evidence, Professor Hussam Jouhara looks at onshore solar energy technologies and adresses the quastion: What role can developments in solar panel technology play in the UK’s transition to net zero? The evidence states that:

  • The efficiency of a solar panel is adversely affected by increased temperature. They are tested at 25ºC, but exposure to sunlight increases their temperature and so reduces their efficiency.
  • There are several variations on the methods of cooling photovoltaic cells, including those that utilise the recovered heat for water heating. The integration of flat heat-pipe technologies into a complete energy-active roofing envelope material – thereby doing away with the need for other more traditional methods of roof cladding.
  • This hybrid technology then being used to pre-heat domestic hot water for radiators, baths, and showers – meeting 60% of a dwelling's hot water needs for days with low levels of solar radiation and 100% on days with high solar radiation – whilst (at the same time) also generating electricity.

Read the written evidence here

More about the inquiry: Technological innovations and climate change: onshore solar energy

How should the use of AI be regulated? Dr Elena Abrusci

In this evidence, Dr Elena Abrusci and Dr Richard Mackenzie-Gray Scott highlight some opportunities regarding how existing legal frameworks within the UK can be better implemented to engage with the use of such systems, and offer recommendations for regulatory development. The evidence states that:

  • Regulatory bodies should be granted further powers and resources to oversee the design and use of AI systems by providers and deployers in the public and private sectors.
  • Providers and deployers of AI systems shoud have in place complaints procedures to address claims of individuals and groups that may have been adversely affected by such systems, in addition to providing mechanisms for effective human oversight.

Read the written evidence here

Connected tech: smart or sinister? Dr Asieh Hosseini Tabaghdehi

In this evidence session, Dr Asieh Hosseini Tabaghdehi analysed the impact of connected technology in healthcare, manufacturing, and policing.

The  also covered reports that the business used data collected by smart technology - including navigation software, scanners, smart devices, and thermal cameras - to automatically terminate employees based on "time off task" and create "heat maps" to track union sentiment. 

Recorded session

Draft Strategy and Policy Statement for the Electoral Commission

In this evidence, Professor Justin Fisher looks at a document called the draft strategy and policy statement for the Electoral Commission. He finds out that: 

  • The Commission’s duties are already outlined in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act.
  • Repeated evidence indicates that the Electoral Commission already provides high-quality guidance and advice to election participants.
  • The statement effectively imposes a ‘free speech’ criterion on Electoral Commission decision-making, where its role in respect of digital imprints is to regulate party and election finance.
  • There is a fundamental issue in arguing that the Commission should be accountable to those who are subject to its regulation – members of the UK Parliament.
  • The core priorities identified in the statement create significant potential for additional avenues of legal challenge to the Commission’s work
  • The statement overall represents both duplication of existing practice, and in places, presents solutions to implied problems for which there is insufficient evidence of their existence

Read the written evidence here

Read the the transcript of Prof Fisher's oral evidence

Connected tech: smart or sinister? Dr Ana Canhoto, Professor Ashley Braganza, Dr Asieh Tabaghdehi

This written evidence submitted by Dr Ana Canhoto, Professor Ashley Braganza, & Dr Asieh Tabaghdehi, analyses the most important impacts of increasingly prevalent smart and connected technology in our lives. The evidence states that:

  • The most important impact of smart technology has been the datafication of daily life, which creates opportunities, as well as threats, at the individual, organisational and town levels.
  • Vulnerability in the face of smart technology arises from contextual factors, such as unavailability of technology, inability to technology, and consequences of using technology. 
  • To design socially responsible smart technologies, firms need to consider how the connectivity, cognitive ability and imperceptibility of the smart system create specific risks in terms on input, process, and output. This can be enforced through a mixture of push and pull mechanisms.
  • Smart technology can fundamentally change the nature of competition in its associated industries. There are also important risks to consider at the level of individuals’ safety and their mental health.
  • Customers are unlikely to make purchase decisions of smart technology based on geo-political considerations.

Read more here

Self-driving vehicles and road traffic problems

This written evidence by Dr Md Nazmul Huda and Luiz Galvao written evidence is based on research findings on how to enable self-driving vehicles to effectively perceive hazardous situations. The authors find out that:

  • Road traffic problems have been a big challenge for many countries and with the estimated increase in vehicles and population, it is expected to worsen. 
  • Self-driving vehicles are a potential solution to solve road traffic problems, however, they still need further developments to make them available on public roads
  •  Self-driving vehicles need improvements in their perception module since it is responsible to detect and predict the behaviour of other road users.
  • State-of-the-art perception algorithms have been implemented using Deep Learning techniques which are considered a data-driven approach.
  • A general dataset with rich labelling is still required to develop, train, and evaluate multiple perception tasks.  There is a lack of public datasets recorded on the UK roads.

Read more here

The lived experiences of adults with Cerebral Palsy

This written evidence by Gemma Cook, gathers personal perspectives from the combined position of being a qualitative academic researching the lived experiences of adults with Cerebral Palsy; a policy expert in international disability human rights; and a neurological physiotherapist who has worked in specialist clinics for adults with CP. The evidence states that: 

  • Service re-design, in particular around transition, needs to take an intersectoral approach (across healthcare, education, vocational training & employment, and socialisation & other leisure activities) putting streamlining of services as a top priority. To work towards this, all stakeholders involved in improving policy around transition should avoid working in siloes.
  • Services for people with Cerebral Palsy need to be lifelong, and take a life-cycle approach, and not be designed around fixed transitional time points.
  • Some suggest that having a central hub for signposting to services would make a good model. A central hub could include an email service, where people with CP can have open access to remote professional guidance with problem solving, supporting them in navigating often complex lives.
  • Evidence suggests that where good physiotherapy services are found they are highly valued, in particular those that take a person-centred partnership approach. Some suggest that physiotherapy could play a central role in such service hubs.
  • Persons with CP, in particular young people with CP need to be at the centre of all service design. They should be involved in every step of the decision-making process, from the very beginning to the very end.
  • Service improvement for CP should be specific to the needs of people with CP, and not compared to other conditions, or modelled to services that have been set up for other conditions.
  • Services should be designed with in-built flexibility to accommodate the needs of the individual and their needs change through time. 

Read more here

Geothermal technologies and the UK’s journey to net zero carbon emissions by 2050

This written evidence by Dr Lee Hosking is principally based upon findings from a recent review of the technology status of unconventional geothermal energy resources. In the document, titled "The potential for geothermal technologies to play a role in the UK’s journey to net zero carbon emissions by 2050"  Dr Hosking finds out that:

  • Geothermal-sourced heat networks have widespread potential in the UK and their development can be readily pursued. 
  • Sedimentary basins are geographically distributed and often aligned with heat demand fordirect use. Granite batholiths, where available, benefit from radiothermal heat productionand can be developed for both heat networks and power generation, as seen in projectsalready being undertaken.
  • Low permeability reservoirs, such as the UK’s granites and deepest sedimentary basins, maybe developed for sufficient rates of heat recovery without permeability enhancement bytargeting systems of natural fractures (faults). 
  • Advances in drilling technology should be expected to lead to economical drilling to greaterdepths in the near future. 

Read more here

The transition to net zero in the UK and geothermal technologies (CeraPhi Energy Ltd)

What role can geothermal technologies take in the transition to net zero in the UK? Learn more in the written evidence, submitted by CeraPhi Energy Ltd, prepared in collaboration with Brunel University London. The evidence states that: 

  • The skills and knowledge used for monobore closed-loop geothermal heat extraction are very similar to those used in the oil and gas industry. As a result, this technology offers a readily transferable opportunity for the extensive UK oil and gas supply chain, thereby providing significant and easy-to-reach employment opportunities.
  • Currently there are a number of barriers that restrict the expansion of widescale geothermal projects and technology development, such as lack of awareness, investment into the sector, past failed projects, lobbying and  regulatory challenges and issues
  • The new closed-loop solutions can be constructed anywhere and therefore this method of extracting geothermal heat is ultimately scalable across the whole of the UK.
  • Currently there is no defined government programme to support Geothermal Energy from its various sources as a vital energy contributor, other than the schemes for (shallow depth) ground source heat systems. There are schemes for fundi

Learn more here


Connected tech: smart or sinister?

This written evidence by Dr Cigdem Sengul covers the subject of smart and connected technology at home. In the document, titled "Connected tech: smart or sinister?"  the author finds out that:

  • while there is a lot of publicity around smart and connected technology improving citizens’ lives at home, workplaces and in towns and cities, it is rarely found to live up to expectations. Smart devices are of limited value when there are high security and privacy risks.
  • Even when some technology is targeted to specific vulnerable groups, the key focus is on device functionality (and the help offered through it, e.g., in the case of ambient assisted living) and not necessarily on the privacy needs of the end-user.
  • Improving public understanding of benefits and risks would lead to more informed acceptance and trust, enabling to realise the potential of adding “smart” into homes.
  • A number of approaches could be used to improve the current situation ranging from age-appropriate privacy policies to more intuitive standardised privacy interfaces. However, it is also counterproductive to put all the burden on manufacturers and service providers. User training is essential and should touch all parts of society, from children to older adults.
  • Our relationship with smart and connected technology is inherently dynamic and changes as the people, context and technology change. Therefore, the policies and codes of practice must be able to respond to such change and are designed to be future-proof.

Read more here

Is the Children and Families Act 2014 fit for purpose?

House of Lords Select Committee on the Children and Families Act 2014. Is the Children and Families Act 2014 fit for purpose? Written evidence from Dr Sonja Ayeb-Karlsson (UCL) and Dr Adrienne Barnett (Brunel University London):

  • The idea (expressed in the Children and Families Act 2014 PART 2 Family justice, Section 11, 'Welfare of the child: parental involvement’) that parental contact should be terminated only in exceptional circumstances has caused tremendous harm to vulnerable children and women in our society.

  • It has even led to the death of many women and of children, including as a result of court-ordered unsafe contact arrangements.

  • The presumption in Section 11, that the involvement of both parents after parental separation is in the child’s best interests, is based on a contingent, contradictory and ambiguous body of research

  • Research has shown that lower courts have operated on the assumption that parental contact should be maintained even in cases of abuse, and that the statutory presumption is operating in the same way; in this way it reinforces the pro-contact culture, with the balance in favour of domestically abusive parents

  • Authors see at least three scenarios where the presumption of ‘parental involvement’ creates more harm than good: i) domestic abuse and/or child abuse, ii) parental abandonment, and iii) complex parenting relations• Globally, almost a third of women are subjected to violence by their partner or ex-partner

  • The 2020 Ministry of Justice Harm Panel Report concluded that there is an urgent need to transform the pro-contact culture that has allowed for systematic minimising of violence and abuse of women and children while forcing them into unsafe child arrangements with dangerous fathers.

Read more here

Digital technology, arts and culture in the UK

This POSTnote describes the uses of emerging technology in arts and culture. It reviews recent evidence on the impact of digital technology on arts and culture stakeholders in the UK, including on audiences, artists and performers and organisations. It also identifies key barriers to the wider use of technology, such as skills gaps and accessibility.

See the research briefing


  • Supporting digital innovation in the creativeindustries is a UK Government priority.
  • Organisations and artists increasingly used technology to engage audiences online during COVID-19 closures. However, this did not fully mitigate the impact on the sector.
  • Emerging technologies are likely to affect the future of the sector. These include immersive technologies, non-fungible tokens, and artificial intelligence.
  • Pre-pandemic inequalities affect how artistsand organisations use digital technology.
  • Policy priorities identified by experts include more funding for digital innovation, tacklingsector diversity and restructuring creative education. Experts also noted that digital arts and culture could contribute to the Government’s Levelling Up agenda

The report includes reference to research by Dr Hayleigh Bosher.

Wales as a destination for international tourists 

Written evidence submitted by Professor Dorothy A. Yen, Dr Ana Canhoto, and Dr Liyuan Wei, Brunel University London 
Read here.

Diversity and inclusion in STEM

Written evidence submitted by Dr Survjit Cheeta, Prof Justin Fisher & Prof Rebecca Lingwood, Brunel University London
Read here.

Reality TV Public Inquiry

This submission outlines the production ecology of Reality Television (RTV) and highlights the inequities that have emerged through the recruitment of ‘ordinary’ people as RTV participants.
Read here.

House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee inquiry into Digital Regulation

This written submission has been prepared by Dr Elena Abrusci, Lecturer in Law at Brunel University London, October 2021


Digital regulators need strong coordination to be able to address the challenges posed by digital and the DRCF is certainly a welcomed initiative and a great first step. Moreover, it has the potential of being reconciled with the most important and useful features of the proposed Digital Authority. However, to this end, it needs the following amendments: 

  • A statutory change for the regulators, introducing a duty to coordinate or cooperate to enable a long-term commitment towards the DRCF, the possibility to fill regulatory gaps, to manage trade-offs and to legally and efficiently share information for joint activities;
  • The appointment of an independent chair accountable to Parliament and the establishment of dedicated procedures for the DRCF to inform policy;
  • A stronger attention to human rights, which should be placed at the core of the activity of the DRCF and reflected in the stakeholder engagement efforts by engaging with vulnerable, disadvantaged and underrepresented groups.

Read the full paper here.

The Impact of the National Living Wage on the Adult Social Care Sector in England in the Context of COVID-19 Pandemic and Brexit 

A report by Andreas Georgiadis from Brunel University London and Maria del Carmen Franco Gavonel from Exeter University, Dec 2021

Read the full paper here.

Written submission from Professor Mark Perry (Department of Computer Science, Brunel University) to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee for the inquiry on Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs)

15 October 2021

Prof. Perry’s research lies in the understanding and use of digital money and currencies to support the design of relevant, useful, and intelligible future financial systems for their users. He has held funding to look at digital payment through alternative/local currencies, Central Bank Digital Currencies where these involve programmable or ‘smart money’ systems, and the use of emerging payment systems in China. The focus of his work is on human behaviour, rather than operations within the banking sector, financial infrastructure, or software systems. Prof. Perry’s research in this area examines issues around the privacy, trust, acceptability, usability, and usefulness of emerging financial technologies. This submission is informed by empirical data collection carried out over the last 8 years at Brunel University, as well as a review of the contemporary academic literature on the subject. 

1. The submission address the following questions in the call for evidence: 1) What are the main benefits and risks of a CBDC?, and 2) How should the Bank of England and HM Treasury address concerns over privacy and traceability of payments when exploring CBDC design?, Outside of these topics, I am less well qualified to address the questions posed by the committee. 

2. This evidence is prepared in the understanding that there are many variations of what a CBDC may involve, and in the absence of clear indications which of these may be developed in the UK. These variants range from a very limited form in handling Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) across the banking sector, broadly known as ‘wholesale CBDCs’, to its wider use in enabling payments between businesses and individuals in what has been described as ‘retail CBDCs’. The wholesale CDBC sector is intended to operate under highly formatted regulation and governance as a means of settling accounts between financial institutions. The retail form of CBDCs is intended to supplant our current processes of financial exchange that include cash, card payments, cheques, and direct debits in paying for goods and services. This submission addresses factors associated with retail CBDCs, and if deployed, it is anticipated that such a CBDC would account for the vast majority of UK financial transactions. 

What are the main benefits and risks of a CBDC? 

3. As we are aware from our everyday activities with money as ordinary citizens, money is highly pervasive across our personal and social lives: how we use it, manage it, manipulate it, share it, value it, give it, hide it, talk about it, lend or borrow it (and so on) all provide an extremely important texture to our lives beyond its abstracted use as a medium of exchange, unit of account, or store of value. The forms of payment that we select, how we choose to make payment, how we assess our wealth and debts, who we share information about our financial lives with, how we come together to make collective payments, are activities that citizens may make multiple times every day. These are often not trivial in their operation or outcomes, and may not be best understood as just simple transactions of capital. Economic activity shapes large parts of peoples’ daily life, and both the medium of money transfer and the infrastructures of payment have a direct impact on us, how we act, and how we relate to others. From studies carried out at Brunel and elsewhere, we have considerable evidence that the form of interaction around financial payments can give rise to what is known as extra-economic utility (that is, value beyond the simple exchange of capital; Zelizer, 2011), such as pleasure and playfulness, conversation and sociability, personal reflection, and in making trust judgements about co-transactors (Ferreira, Perry, and Subramanian, 2015). 

4. Any form of retail CBDC that prioritises the purely transactional over the interactional will inevitably diminish the personal, social, and cultural value that comes with our existing forms of money and payment (Ferreira and Perry, 2019). A focus on making money transfers more ‘frictionless’, faster, cheaper, and more secure as currently pushed by financial industry advocates, misses these extra-economic factors (Perry and Ferreira, 2018). As such there is a significant economic, personal, and social risk in a) loss of faith in the relevance, trustworthiness, or usefulness of the CBDC resulting in a possible shift to alternative (and perhaps less well regulated) transactional media that do enable what citizen users want or require (eg. physical cash, alternative digital currencies), b) less effective mechanisms for financial management by individuals and (small) businesses, resulting in poor financial judgements being made, and c) an impoverished national social and cultural experience, because the means by which payment is made or financial transfers are settled becomes less visible, and so loses the socio-informational value that current payment formats enable (Lewis and Perry, 2018). 

5. The medium of a citizen user’s interaction with a CBDC (eg. via an app or website) are likely to be distinct from the technical infrastructure of that CBDC (whether this is on a blockchain, digital ledger, or another platform), and thus there is an argument to be made that these factors are not relevant to the implementation of the CBDC. Depending on the final infrastructural design of the CBDC system, it may be accessible via a bank’s mobile app, an application developed by the Bank of England for an account held directly by them, or an application developed by a ‘third party’ developer with permissioned access. However, the information that users can access and the process of making payment is directly limited by the implementation of the CBDC in the software restrictions and constraints that it imposes, whether by deliberate access control or simple lack of functionality. In this way, the infrastructure of CBDC is the hinge on which any further access or manipulation of financial records will turn. 

6. Our recommendation here is that any implementation of the CBDC infrastructure should allow considerable flexibility in access to the financial data held. A restrictive level of control over data access, or limited functionality could be enormously damaging to the extra-economic, social utility of money, as well as limiting the degree of flexibility in financial operations permitted. 

How should the Bank of England and HM Treasury address concerns over privacy and traceability of payments when exploring CBDC design? 

7. Our use of money is generally considered a personal and private affair, although it is generally recognised that there are circumstances that require external audit of account information and access to funds. Emerging cryptocurrencies have placed great emphasis on the privacy and the lack of traceability that their services offer users. For a CBDC, this is clearly not plausible as there is likely to be a national need for oversight, for reasons as varied as tracking criminal activity to HMRC monitoring taxable liabilities. 

8. In addition to the ability to track financial activity by individuals and organisations, it has been suggested that a CBDC will also offer economically valuable national indicators to track aggregate purchasing information broken down at granular levels to determine real-time inflation, to assess the impact of government policy on economic behaviour, or to allow the ONS to map out or mine a rich national picture of citizen activity from CBDC transactional metadata. 

9. Likewise, citizen users of the CBDC may themselves wish for their financial and payments data to be made available to other parties, such as their banks, in credit applications, their accountants, or their family members. There is a wide evidence base showing that financial information sharing, particularly between friends and family, is heavily used and valued, albeit with some concerns over coercive control. 

10. Allowing permissioned, third-party access to view or transact on a CBDC account (such as using a unique access token) therefore seems to be a valuable design requirement for a national CBDC. This should be at a level of data granularity set by the account holder (eg. broad categories of purchase or specific items, purchase timeframes or locations, etc.). However, as we note below, this poses questions about making the people or organisations that have access to this private data accountable for their actions, as these are potentially highly intrusive. 

11. Privileged access to financial data from the CBDC is therefore useful, both in a mandated form by government (eg. HMRC, ONS, Ministry of Justice), but also via permissioned form by account holders themselves (eg. third party financial services, financial administrators, family, carers). Our qualitative data from China suggests that its citizens are resigned not to expect transactional information to remain private and that the state will have unrestricted access to it, but this should not be assumed to be the case in the UK (or most other democratic nations). There is a broad expectation in the UK that private data remains private from government, institutions, or other people, unless there is an overriding national need for this, or an agreed value for the account holder in making this available to others. Without knowledge of how peoples’ personal data is being used, and their control over who has access to what kind of data, there is likely to be an erosion of citizens’ trust with such a CBDC. 

12. Our recommendation here is that where external access to a CBDC account is requested (by legal mandate or explicitly permissioned by the user), that this activity (including the financial details requested) is traceable to the entity making the request by the account holder (with possible exclusions, for example by the security services or with a police warrant). The granularity of this information about any access (who, when, why, what information) should be as high as possible, making the information requester fully accountable for their actions. 

13. We further recommend that external account access should be explicitly flagged (eg. with a notification) so that the account holder is made aware that and when their data has been externally accessed. 

14. Making CBDC access accountable will not by itself solve the problems of privacy and traceability in a CBDC, but it will provide a more transparent basis for citizen users to build trust in this vital piece of national infrastructure. Not to do so may lead to failure in large scale adoption as citizens worry about their activity being subject to an unaccountable level of surveillance. 


  • Ferreira, J., Perry, M. and Subramanian, S. (2015) Spending Time with Money: from shared values to social connectivity. Proc. ACM CSCW’15, March 14–18, 2015, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. ACM Press, New York, NY, USA, p.1222-1234.
  • Fereirra, J. and Perry, M. (2019) From Transactions to Interactions: Social Considerations for Digital Money. In Lynn, Mooney, Rosati and Cummins (Eds.) Disrupting Finance: Fintech and Strategy in the 21st Century, p. 121-132. Palgrave Macmillan / Springer Nature: Switzerland.
  • Lewis, M. and Perry, M. (2019) Follow the Money: Managing Personal Finance Digitally. Proc. ACM CHI’19, May 4-9, 2019, Glasgow, UK. ACM Press, New York, NY, USA.
  • Perry, M. & Ferreira, J. (2018) Moneywork: Practices of Use and Social Interaction around Digital and Analog Money. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 24(6), Article 41, 32 pages.
  • Zelizer, V. (2011). Economic lives. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Compulsory licensing vs. the IP waiver: what is the best way to end the COVID-19 pandemic?

"By October 2021, more than 6 billion doses had been administered globally. However, more than 80% of these doses were administered in high-income and upper-middle-income countries, and only 2.5% of people in low-income countries received at least one dose. This inequitable distribution of vaccines has enabled the virus to continue spreading and mutating, putting millions of lives at risk" - read a new policy brief, by Dr Olga Gurgula, published in South Centre Policy Brief. 

The brief Compulsory licensing vs. the IP waiver: what is the best way to end the COVID-19 pandemic? is available here.

New EU system for the avoidance of double taxation and prevention of tax abuse in the field of withholding taxes - European Comisison feedback 

"According to the political guideline for the next European Commission, there is an urgent need to convert the most feasible single market fair taxation proposal to law to support the sustainable economic development of the society" - read a new analysis by Dr Monomita Nandy.

The analysis: New EU system for the avoidance of double taxation and prevention of tax abuse in the field of withholding taxes - European Commission: feedback from Brunel University and Middlesex University London is available here.

Policy Options to Eliminate Additional Marine Plastic Litter - Resource Panel

Report co-authored by Dr Lesley Henderson (Brunel University London).

Read the report here.

Committee on Standards in Public Life - Review of Electoral Regulation

Evidence submitted by Professor Justin Fisher (Brunel University London).

Read the full paper here.

UK Parliament formal meeting (oral evidence session): UK aid to Pakistan

Professor Javaid Rehman Professor of International Human Rights Law at Brunel University gives evidence to the UK Parliament.

Watch the session here.

Assessment of cost-effective changes to the current and potential provision of smoking cessation services

Increasing the reach of smoking cessation services and/or including new but effective medications to the current provision may provide significant health and economic benefits; the scale of such benefits is currently unknown. The aim of this study was to estimate the cost-effectiveness from a health-care perspective of viable national level changes in smoking cessation provision in the Netherlands and England.

Read the full paper here.

Cytisine versus varenicline for smoking cessation in New Zealand indigenous Māori: a randomized controlled trial

To determine whether cytisine was at least as effective as varenicline in supporting smoking abstinence for ≥ 6 months in New Zealand indigenous Māori or whānau (extended-family) of Māori, given the high smoking prevalence in this population.

Read the full paper here.

Influencer culture inquiry       

Evidence submitted by Dr Hayleigh Bosher in May 2021 in answer to the following questions: 

  • How would you define ‘influencers’ and ‘influencer culture’? 
  • Has ‘influencing’ impacted popular culture? If so, how has society and/or culture changed because of this side of social media?
  • Is it right that influencers are predominantly associated with advertising and consumerism, and if not, what other roles to influencers fulfil online?How are tech companies encouraging or disrupting the activities of influencing?
  • How aware are users of the arrangements between influencers and advertisers? Should policymakers, tech companies, influencers and advertisers do more to ensure these arrangements are transparent? 

Read the full paper here.

Public support for ‘soft’ versus ‘hard’ behavioural public policies

Dr Manu Savani with colleagues from London School of Economics and Political Science review the literature on public support for ‘soft’ versus ‘hard’ policy instruments for behaviour change, and the factors that drive such preferences. Soft policies typically include ‘moral suasion’ and educational campaigns, and more recently behavioural public policy approaches like nudges. Hard policy instruments, such as laws and taxes, restrict choices and alter financial incentives. In contrast to the public support evidenced for hard policy instruments during COVID-19, prior academic literature pointed to support for softer policy instruments. We investigate and synthesise the evidence on when people prefer one type of policy instrument over another. 

Read the full paper here.

Propriety of governance in light of Greensill

Evidence submitted by Professor Justin Fisher 

Executive Summary 

  • Lobbying is a positive aspect of democratic life and is undertaken by a broad range of political actors – not just the private sector.
  • The Register of Lobbyists covers only a tiny proportion of lobbying activity.
  • There has been progress in self-regulation of lobbying conduct via the Public Affairs Code, but its coverage is far from complete.
  • The Register of Lobbyists should be expanded to cover all professional lobbying activity.
  • The existing Public Affairs Code should apply to all professional lobbyists.
  • An independent self-regulatory body should be established to oversee and enforce the Public Affairs Code.
  • Failure to establish such an independent body within a reasonable timeframe should result in statutory enforcement of the Public Affairs Code.

Read the full paper here.

UK IPO Artificial Intelligence Call for Views: Copyright and Related Rights

Response of Brunel Law School & Centre for Artificial Intelligence, Dr Hayleigh Bosher

The UK Intellectual Property Office sought views on the implications artificial intelligence might have for IP policy. Hayleigh’s evidence argues that: 

  1. The analogy of copying someone’s work inside a human brain, is not an appropriate way of considering whether copyright protected works are infringed by AI.
  2. The test for copyright infringement in these circumstances needs to be adapted, in that it focuses on the AI ‘Producers’ (meaning the person responsible) activities (such as data input) rather than the output.
  3. It should be clarified in what circumstances the current copyright exceptions apply to AI processes.
  4. It needs to be considered whether or not private agreements could or should be made above or below any policy decision as to the ownership of copyright in AI-generated works.
  5. There should be a distinction between AI-assisted works and AI-generated works.
  6. Additional rights should be considered such as performance and moral rights. 

Read the full paper here.

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee's Inquiry:Economics of Music Streaming

Evidence from Dr Hayleigh Bosher, Brunel University London

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee is examining what economic impact music streaming is having on artists, record labels and the sustainability of the wider music industry. Hayleigh’s evidence argues that: 


  1. The government should consider the implement a system of equitable remuneration.
  2. Require more transparency from record labels and publishers, which is necessary for artists. Claims for data information could be made under the current UK data protection law.
  3. Copyright should revert back to the creator after a period of time.
  4. ‘Playlisters’ should be regulated by the UK Advertising Standards Agency in the same way as influencers.

Read the paper here.

COVID and Criminal Law

Written evidence from Dr Melanie Collard, Brunel University London; Dr Isra Black, University of York; Dr Lisa Forsberg, University of Oxford; Dr Henrique Carvalho, University of Warwick; Dr Anastasia Chamberlen, University of Warwick

Our summary conclusions are:

  • The legal regime for coronavirus restrictions gives rise to significant concern in respect of compliance with the requirements of the ECHR principle of legality.
  • The government’s extensive use of criminalisation through the made affirmative procedure has deprived coronavirus restrictions of democratic legitimacy and may have reduced public understanding, acceptance, and trust in the legal response to Covid-19.
  • The experience of the response to Covid-19 offers an opportunity to learn lessons about the appropriateness and extent of criminalisation in public health, both in terms of effectiveness and externalities.
  • The use of FPNs as the principal tool of criminalisation of Covid-19 offences risks unintended criminalisation, may be counterproductive to public health objectives, and may further entrench inequality and discrimination.

Our evidence considers the law in England only.

Read the full paper here.  

Role of batteries and fuel cells in achieving Net Zero

Dr Chun Sing Lai, Lecturer, Brunel Interdisciplinary Power Systems (BIPS) Research Centre, Professor Gareth Taylor, Director, BIPS Research Centre, Dr Mohamed Darwish, Reader, BIPS Research Centre, Brunel University London
BIPS Research Centre at Brunel University London delivers world-class research in power systems analysis for transmission and distribution networks, smart grids, and analysis of new energy markets.

Professor Giorgio Locatelli, Chair in Project Business Strategy, University of Leeds 
Prof Locatelli received his PhD “Cum Laude” in Industrial engineering, economics, and management from Politecnico di Milano in 2011. His research area is project management in large and complex infrastructure. He is also a consultant and visiting academic for several institutions, including the International Atomic Energy Agency.

This evidence and the recommendations are based primarily upon findings derived from research activities conducted for Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Standard Research Project EP/022049/1. The research project was focussed on utility-scale energy storage for low carbon electricity generation. The findings and recommendations are highly relevant to the call for evidence. 

March 2021

Executive Summary 

  • Recommendation 1: Energy policy schemes should be enacted to support and protect the planning, development and operations of energy storage in related markets, in particular utility-scale energy storage in combination of low carbon electricity generation1 incentives. 
  • Recommendation 2: Generation Integrated Energy Storage (GIES) systems2 have been demonstrated as technically and economically viable energy storage options in achieving net zero. On that basis, GIES systems can be considered for storage of thermal and mechanical energy produced by solar and wind power.
  • Recommendation 3: Price floor mechanisms as applied for carbon trading3 can also enhance energy storage economic viability and reduce electricity market volatility. Upfront subsidies required to meet the high upfront costs and long lifetimes of energy storage is needed with regard to currently expensive battery technologies. 
  • Recommendation 4: From a long-term (i.e., 5 to 20 years) perspective, mathematical models can be developed to analyse the technical and economic impacts on the wider energy system in terms of extensive installation of large-scale batteries. 

Read the full paper here.  

Review of the work of the Electoral Commission

The Work of the Electoral CommissionEvidence submitted by Professor Justin Fisher, Brunel University London

Justin Fisher is Professor of Political Science at Brunel University London. He has worked extensively with the Electoral Commission, the Committee on Standards in Public Life and the Council of Europe on enquiries related to party finance and electoral regulation. He has advised electoral bodies both in the UK and overseas.

Declaration of Interest: I have conducted commissioned research via Brunel University London on behalf of the Electoral Commission at each general election since 2005 and following the 2016 referendum.

October 2020

Executive Summary

  • Recommendation 1:  The Electoral Commission should continue to perform its current roles and functions.
  • Recommendation 2: The enforcement of candidate spending should come under the remit of the Commission.
  • Recommendation 3: Both the investigatory powers and the fines available to the Commission should be extended.
  • Recommendation 4:  Consideration should be given to whether the administration and funding of elections should fall under the Commission’s remit.
  • Recommendation 5:  Consideration should be given to creating an Electoral Commissioner responsible for sub-national government.

Read the full paper here.  

The use of Vitamin D at a Population Level Against COVID-19

Dr Fotios Drenos, Brunel University London

February 2021

Key Findings

  • There is no evidence linking low vitamin D to COVID-19
  • Vitamin D should not be promoted as being protective against COVID-19 

 Read the full paper here.   

Informing environmental protection (Single-use Plastic Products and Oxo-degradable Plastic Products) regulations in Scotland

These regulations propose introducing market restrictions – effectively a ban – for problematic single-use plastic (SUP) items and all oxo-degradable products in line with Article 5 of the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive (EU) 2019/904. The responses received will help shape the final regulations that will support the Scottish Government in its work to reduce marine litter and support a shift away from our throwaway culture.Evidence submitted by Dr Lesley Henderson, Reader in Sociology and Communications at Brunel University London.

Key recommendations:

  • While the proposed regulation is welcomed, there is likely to be confusion over which products are included as oxo-degradable (for example multi-layered products).
  • There are no recommendations regarding use of alternatives which is a significant omission in light of COVID-19 which has led to significant increases in food packaging waste.
  • New regulations must be accompanied by public awareness and education materials which contextualise this legislation within wider circular economy initiatives.

Read the full paper here


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