On 14 January 2015 politicians and business leaders gathered with some of the country's leading social scientists at an event to launch a year of celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Greg Clark MP at anniversary launch eventAs part of the event at the House of Commons Terrace Pavilion, Minister for Universities, Science and Cities the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP reflected on how the social sciences have developed since the council was granted its Royal Charter in 1965, when it was known as the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), and what a difference the research has made to society.

Greg Clark said, "There is very little that matters to people that hasn't been looked at by ESRC-funded research." He went on to say that "Social science is uniquely placed to influence how people respond to the challenges of modernity."

The Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee and Sir Andrew Dilnot, Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, also spoke at the event, providing their views on the importance of social science research to the understanding of society today. Sir Andrew compared 1965 to 2015 and outlined statistics that show a need for social science research.

The event was the first in a series to mark the anniversary year, which will include competitions for students and researchers and our annual Festival of Social Science in November.