Social Market Foundation

A think-tank born out of the demise of the Social Democratic Party, the Social Market Foundation exp

Social Market Foundation

Contact Details

Address: 11 Tufton Street, Westminster, London SW1P 3QB
Telephone: 020 7222 7060

Key Officers

Director: Ian Mulheirn
Deputy Director: Natalie Tarry
Senior Research Fellow: Simon Griffiths
Senior Research Fellow: Jessica Prendergrast
Events Officer: Will Hoyles


The Social Market Foundation (SMF) emerged out of the decline of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and was founded in 1989 by supporters of the party’s leader David Owen. However, it has never been formally affiliated to any political party. Characterising itself as ‘pro-market’ rather than ‘free-market’, the Foundation seeks to reconcile liberal economics with social justice.

The SMF was originally viewed as close to the liberal, One Nation wing of the Conservative Party and two of its former directors, Rick Nye and Times columnist Daniel Finkelstein, later became Conservative advisers. But the think-tank moved closer to New Labour in the 1990s and Gordon Brown delivered a keynote speech on ‘social markets’ at the Foundation in 2003.

Its current research projects are centered around public service reform and a major two-year investigation on The Future of Healthcare in the UK is due to conclude soon. Another project, exploring the implications of the ‘Death of Deference’ for education and the health system, has attracted much attention.

The current director of the SMF is Labour peer Lord Lipsey, who succeeded Lord Skidelsky, and members of the group’s Policy Advisory Board include George Osborne, Vince Cable and Trevor Phillips.