Professor Sir John Hills, who has died of cancer aged 65, seemed to embody the London School of Economics traditions - of Richard Titmuss, Peter Townsend, Brian Abel Smith and David Donnison - in a single person. Certainly, like them, he published on pensions, taxation, social security, poverty, inequality, and housing. He also influenced policy on fuel poverty, social housing, pensions and equality, and was trusted by civil servants and politicians of different persuasions. For CPAG, his main contribution was his book Changing Tax (1988), which former director Fran Bennett claims was not only the best title but also the best seller in her time. Fourteen of us struggled to repeat and update it in Let’s Talk about Tax (2019). He produced the original alone.
He was the Director of the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) for 17 years before becoming Co-Director of LSE’s International Inequalities Institute for three years. CASE has produced some of the best social policy research in the last 20 years and he also nurtured a brilliant stream of younger scholars who have carried on his traditions. Perhaps the best examples of their work were the comprehensive analyses produced on the social policy impact of each government from New Labour onwards – with the latest, 'Social policies and distributional outcomes in a changing Britain', still underway.
His death leaves a tremendous gap in the field of evidence-based social policy, so important to CPAG. We share the loss and grief with his wife Professor Anne Power, his family, friends and colleagues.