Welfare and active labour market policies in the UK: the coalition government approach

Anne Daguerre, David Etherington

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


This chapter seeks to characterise the welfare and active labour market policies of the coalition government between 2010 and 2015. It examines the main reforms to the tax and benefit systems, including clear moves towards ‘workfare’. It argues that the coalition’s welfare to work agenda was to a large extent dominated by a traditional Conservative discourse based on the stigmatisation of welfare dependency on moral and economic grounds, but the Liberal Democrats did exert a moderating influence in some areas of social policy, mainly in relation to welfare policies for young people and cuts to tax credits. It concludes that what emerges under the Work Programme is the image of an authoritarian workfare state which delegates much of its sanctioning powers to contracted out welfare to work providers, while at the same time eroding some of the support services that are at the heart of active labour market policies, with welfare beneficiaries being subjected to increased monitoring and surveillance, in what appears to be an unbalanced welfare contract. The cumulative impact of the reforms corresponds to a recasting of the United Kingdom’s welfare state, with an erosion in terms of substantive social rights.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Coalition Government and Social Policy
Subtitle of host publicationRestructuring the Welfare State
Place of PublicationBristol
PublisherPolicy Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9781447324577
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2016


  • Welfare reform
  • UK Coalition government
  • social policy
  • benefit sanctions

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