2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the SPA. To celebrate this milestone we have commissioned 50 blogs from leading experts in the field. We will release these blogs on a weekly basis.

Fifty Blogs for fifty years

“Social policy matters. Rigorous, independent, robust study of it matters, as does teaching the next generation to be more policy-literate. At 50 the SPA is as important to all of these as ever, helping to develop, integrate and safeguard the subject and its members and contribute to better social policies.” (50 words to mark 50 years, Adrian Sinfield)


  • 50th Anniversary Blog Series

    No 8: Universal Credit: A benefits system to increase debt

    by Steve Iafrati Narratives explaining poverty as caused by personal failings and poor decisions are nothing new. The characterisation of the likeable but foolish Mr Micawber in Dickens’ David Copperfield has given way to a politicised narrative of ‘sleeping off a life on benefits’ and [...]
  • Investing in apprenticeships is one way the the UK government can boost productivity post-Brexit, says Peter Taylor-Gooby.
    50th Anniversary Blog Series

    No 7: Brexit won’t work without a new welfare state

    by Peter Taylor-Gooby We stand on the brink of a new golden age of the welfare state. As the UK staggers towards Brexit, it is becoming increasingly obvious that separation from the EU, however accomplished, will confront our economy and our government with challenges we [...]

From the Fifty-For-Fifty Series

What is social policy

The Social Policy Association (SPA) is the UK’s professional association for teachers, researchers, students and practitioners of social policy. We promote social policy in teaching and learning and seek to advance the role of research in policy making, practice and wider public debates.

The Social Policy Association supports Discover Society: Measured – Factual – Critical


Joining the UK Social Policy Association

Social Policy Association logo

Why join the UK Social Policy Association?

The SPA provides a forum for the exchange and dissemination of ideas, research and perspectives about pressing national and global social challenges and issues. The SPA promotes research, teaching and practice in Social Policy and works to enhance the public profile of the subject as well as academic, policy and practice dialogue, research and collaboration. It is committed to promoting the discipline of Social Policy and providing collective representation for its national and international membership. It is regularly consulted by organisations responsible for post-compulsory education and social science research in the UK. It liaises closely with the Economic and Social Research Council and other bodies, providing a range of services to support and encourage advanced studies in Social Policy.

What are the benefits of membership?

Membership of the SPA brings a wide range of benefits, including:

  • Individual subscription to the Journal of Social Policy and Social Policy and Society (both published in collaboration with Cambridge University Press).
  • Receipt of Social Policy Review, published annually: an edited collection of articles reviewing developments and debates in social policy in the UK and internationally.
  • Opportunities to join and participate in SPA Postgraduate and Early Career groups, networks and events.
  • Discounts on subscriptions to other leading academic journals: Journal of European Social Policy, Policy and Politics, Social Policy and Administration and Global Social Policy.
  • Discounted registration for the annual international Social Policy Association conference, which attracts social policy academics and researchers from the UK and other countries. The conference provides an important opportunity to engage with the latest developments in the discipline.
  • Reciprocal arrangements with other learned societies: SPA members can attend the BSA conference and the Social Research Association events at a reduced rate, and can join APPAM (Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management) at a reduced price.
  • The opportunity to apply to our various grants scheme which provide funding to support seminars, conferences and other activities for the benefit of members as well as the broader social policy and social research community.
  • Close links other learned societies and major social policy research, teaching and learning organisations such as the Higher Education Academy.
  • Eligibility to be nominated for the annual round of SPA Awards.


How much does it cost?

Membership subscription rates are charged on a sliding scale according to income (see below for current rates).

Subscription rates UK and Economic North
Annual income Annual subscription
Less than £15,000 £40
£15,000–£29,999 £75
£30,000–£49,999 £95
£50,000 or more £125
Organisational rate £100*
Subscription rates **Economic South
Individual rate £10
Organisational rate £50*

* Please contact the Membership Secretary, Harriet Churchill, for further details of organisational membership which is available to organisations in the Public and Third Sector but not higher education institutions.

** For clarification of the classification of the economic North/South divide please refer to this map (map reproduced by kind permission of the British Society of Criminology)

How do I join?

It is simple to join the SPA!

To join please follow the instructions below and submit the necessary forms via email to the Membership Secretary, currently Harriet Churchill.

  1. All new members: Ensuring you provide us with up to date and accurate members information and contact details (clearly specifying an alternative address for receipt of members’ journals if this is different to your workplace address) please download and complete the New Members Form
  1. UK Members: The SPAs preferred method of annual membership fee payment for UK members is via an annual Direct Debit. This method of payment ensures members are guaranteed automatic annual renewal unless the SPA is informed members’ wish to cancel their membership and direct debit. In advance of annual membership renewal in January of each year, UK members receive an email offering them the opportunity to cancel their membership if they prefer. UK Members can download and print the Direct Debit mandate form here.

In order for payment to be swiftly processed, please complete this form carefully providing all the necessary information including the correct membership subscription fee amount according to your annual income and the date of the first annual direct debit payment (which should at least allow two weeks for processing). Please also ensure your Direct Debit form is signed. If you have any queries regarding UK membership, the Direct Debit scheme or alternative methods of paying for your annual membership subscription, please contact the Membership Secretary

  1. Overseas Members: The SPA has a growing number of overseas members and particularly keen to increase its international membership and networks. The SPA operates an on-line method of payment for the annual membership subscription rates for overseas members. The Membership Secretary will provide information about our on-line payment system following receipt of your New Members Form.

Any queries membership related the Membership Secretary will be happy to hear from you.

Join the SPA

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Click here to join the Social Policy Association

Our Journals



ISSN: 0047-2794 (Print), 1469-7823 (Online) The Journal of Social Policy carries high quality articles on all aspects of social policy in an international context. It places particular emphasis upon articles which seek to contribute to […]

SPA Publications

In Defence of Welfare 2

In Defence of Welfare began in 2010 as a response to this government’s first Major Spending Review. Put together by the Social Policy Association, it was an attempt to anticipate the impact of such cuts [...]

In Defence of Welfare 1

In Defence of Welfare was published in early 2011 and brings together responses from social policy experts to a range of different aspects of the Coalition government’s planned reforms of – and cuts to – [...]

SPA Guidelines on Research Ethics

The purpose of these Guidelines on Research Ethics is to provide a framework to help members of the Social Policy Association (SPA) identify and address the different kinds of ethical issues which may arise in [...]

Defining research quality in social policy

Defining ‘Quality’ in Social Policy Research: Views, perceptions and a framework for discussion by Saul Becker, Alan Bryman and Joe Sempik. This report presents the findings from an innovative mixed methods study of over 250 [...]

Experiences of REF Impact Pilots

The Higher Education Funding Councils have proposed that the impact of research should form part of the forthcoming Research Excellence Framework (REF). Because the assessment of research impact is a new endeavour, the approach and [...]

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