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Social Policy in Challenging TimesEconomic Crisis and Welfare Systems$
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Kevin Farnsworth and Zoe Irving

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781847428288

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847428288.001.0001

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From economic crisis to a new age of austerity: the UK

From economic crisis to a new age of austerity: the UK

(p.251) Fourteen From economic crisis to a new age of austerity: the UK
Social Policy in Challenging Times

Kevin Farnsworth

Policy Press

The UK was one of the hardest hit by the post-2007 crisis. It has suffered a deeper and longer recession, and has faced higher costs from its attempts to repair its financial sector. The Labour government paid a high electoral price in 2010 and the crisis brought about a political swing to the Right. The implications for the poorest and most vulnerable are grave indeed. Many have lost their jobs and their homes in the recession, and the new Conservative-led coalition (with the Liberal Democrats) felt it had been given a mandate for swingeing public sector cuts that promise to be the deepest in living memory. Meanwhile, the privileges of the wealthy and the benefits paid to corporations look likely to be protected. This chapter considers these issues and asks what hope there is for social policy in these altered circumstances. Whilst the answer to this question is not an altogether positive one, the crisis does provide some real opportunities for change in the medium term by tackling the vested interests of the City and by raising serious questions about the omnipotence of private markets.

Keywords:   UK, social policy, financial crisis, social protection, austerity, banking crisis, welfare cuts

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