The United Kingdom's Social Model: From Labour's New Deal to the Economic Crisis and the Coalition

Ken Mayhew, Mark Wickham-Jones

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This chapter details the development of the social model in the United Kingdom under successive governments since 1997. Noting the reforms instigated by the Conservatives in office between 1979 and 1997, we discuss how the Labour government shaped the model before the onset of the economic crisis in 2008-9. We go on to analyse how the resultant configuration of institutions and policies influenced both the trajectory taken by the economic downturn and the successive responses to the economic crisis initiated by Labour and, after the result of the 2010 general election, by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition that replaced it in office. We argue that Labour’s approach before 2008 combined neoliberal elements (especially in terms of weak financial regulation) alongside a strong commitment to welfare provision. This agenda heightened the vulnerability of the United Kingdom to the initial economic shock which indicated severe weaknesses with Labour’s economic model. Since 2010, the Coalition Government has intensified the scope and speed of retrenchment eventually introduced by Labour in response to the crisis: the specific configuration of the social model, however, continues to influence the new administration’s programme.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEuropean Social Models from Crisis to Crisis
EditorsJon Erik Dølvik, Andrew Martin
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages33
ISBN (Print)978-019-8717966
Publication statusPublished - 24 Dec 2014


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