2015 SPA awards report

The 2015 SPA Awards ceremony was held on 6 July at the Titanic Suite in Belfast.  Awards were presented by SPA President, Sue Duncan.  This year we had five award winners.  Winner of the award for ‘Best Post Graduate Paper’ (presented at last year’s SPA conference) was Rita Griffiths of the University of Bath, for her paper entitled ‘No love on the dole: Do UK means tested welfare benefits discourage two parent families?’ GRIFFITHS PIC_EHP9440

The award for ‘Best Non-Academic Contribution to Social Policy’ was presented to the Rev. Paul Nicolson who has dedicated much of his life to understanding and campaigning against the causes of poverty and to being an advocate for those in financial trouble.NICOLSON PIC_EHP9459

This year we are happy to announce three winners of the Special Recognition Award.  The award is made to those who have made a consistent, sustained and long standing contribution to the field of social policy, through research, or teaching and learning. They have often had a significant impact on the political process or made a substantial contribution to the development and promotion of the discipline of social policy.  The award winners are:

  • Professor Lesley Doyal, Emeritus Professor at the School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol. Lesley has specialised in health policy, gender and development, and research methods, and was instrumental in setting up one of the first Women’s Studies Units in the UK. DOYAL PIC_EHP9463
  • Professor Rudolf Klein, Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at the University of Bath. Rudolf has made a major contribution to the study of social policy, both in the UK and internationally, and has been a pioneer in the fields of regulation, performance measurement, accountability and targets.
  • Professor Robert Pinker, Emeritus Professor of Social Administration at the London School of Economics. Robert’s work has been pivotal in highlighting theoretical issues in the understanding of social policy and developing intellectual thought within the study of social policy, through research and teaching and through serving on numerous boards and committees. PINKER SPEECH PIC_EHP9483

Congratulations to all our winners. And thank you to all who took the time and trouble to nominate people for the awards.  The call for nominations for the 2016 SPA awards will be made in January 2016.  See the SPA website, and SPA members’ mailing list for details at the time.’


Photos courtesy of ElaineHillPhotographyALL AWARD WINNERS_EHP9506

Employability Soundbites

Social Policy Association Executive members give their thoughts on how to enhance your employability as an aspiring student of social policy.

Nick Ellison: What key things do you look for in an academic application?


Anne Brunton: What one piece of advice would you give someone in the third year of their PhD?


Stefan Kuhner: When should I try to publish from my PhD?


Ben Baumberg: What do you think PhD students should know about the academic job market?


Harriet Churchill: What benefits and drawbacks are associated with a teaching position as a first post? 


Nasar Meer: What benefits and drawbacks are associated with a teaching position as a first post?


Hugh Bochel: Is conference attendance important for your career? If so, why?



Welcome! New members of the Exec and the EBs

We would like to thank everyone for putting themselves  forward and for voting in the elections held at the AGM.

The new exec members are:

  • Zoe Irving from the University of York,
  • Theo Papadopolous from the University of Bath,
  • Lee Gregory from the University of Birmingham
  • Hardeep Aiden as the new postgraduate rep from the University of Bristol.

In addition, Jane Millar from the University of Bath will be shadowing Nick Ellison for a year before taking over as chair in 2016 and Rachael Dobson will be shadowing Tina Haux before taking over as Honorary Secretary in 2016.

The new members of the Social Policy and Society Editorial Board are Jon Glasby and Simon Pemberton from the University of Birmingham and Kayleigh Garthwhaite and Theo Papadopolous from the University of Bath. James Rees from the University of Birmingham will be joining the Journal of Social Policy Editorial Board. Welcome!

‘Troubled Families’ SPA seminars

14087270645_3453006d12_zThe SPA provided funding to two postgraduate students to develop three seminars relating to the UK government’s Troubled Families Programme in the lead up to the 2015 UK General Election. These seminars were held at Durham University, Lancaster University and the LSE and were organised by Stephen Crossley, a PhD candidate at Durham University and Michael Lambert, a PhD candidate at Lancaster University.

In the aftermath of the English riots in 2011, David Cameron announced that one only had to ‘join the dot’s to work out that parenting failures were a primary cause of many young people being involved in the disturbances. He went on to say that if the ‘broken society’ was to be mended, family and parenting was the place to start, making clear his ambition to ‘turn around’ the lives of the 120,000 most ‘troubled families’ in the UK – ‘the ones that everyone in their neighbourhood knows and often avoids’. Four months later, in December 2011, the Troubled Families Programme (TFP) was launched, tasked with realising the Prime Minister’s ambition.

The seminars explored: the history of the concept of ‘troubled families’, including continuities and changes with previous constructions of the ‘underclass’ thesis; the implications for practitioners working with ‘troubled families’; and different sociological and theoretical perspectives that can be used to understand the construction of ‘troubled families’.

Presentations from the seminars are here:




Photograph courtesy of Number 10

Vacancies for social policy journal editorial board members

Editorial board nominations required for the Journal of Social Policy
There is four vacancies arising on the editorial board of the Journal of Social Policy. The editorial board meets twice a year. Throughout the year members are expected to referee a small number of papers submitted to the Journal and provide advice to the editors when required. Editorial board members serve a term of four years.
Elections will be held at the AGM held at the Social Policy Association Conference at the University of Ulster in July.  If you are interested in becoming a member of the board, in the first instance please contact the editors, Patricia Kennett (p.kennett@bristol.ac.uk) and  Misa Izuhara (m.izuhara@bristol.ac.uk), to discuss the role of editorial board members.
The JSP editors welcome applications from all areas of social policy we would particularly like to encourage those specialising in the following to apply: employment and labour markets, comparative social policy, gender, poverty and well-being and quantitative methods.
Nominations should be emailed to the SPA Hon. Secretary, Tina Haux (tinahaux@gmail.com).  Please provide brief details of interests and experience, which will form the basis of a short summary on the ballot form, and the names of a proposer and a seconder (both of whom must also be SPA members), by Friday, the 11th of June 2015.
Nominations required for the editorial board of Social Policy and Society 
There is one vacancy arising on the editorial board of Social Policy and Society. The editorial board meets twice a year, and members are expected to be involved in refereeing papers submitted to the Journal. Editorial board members serve on the board for four years.
Elections will be held at the AGM at the Social Policy Association Conference held this year at the University of Ulster in July.  If you are interested in becoming a member of the board, in the first instance please contact the editors, Catherine Bochel (cbochel@lincoln.ac.uk) and Hugh Bochel (hbochel@lincoln.ac.uk) to discuss the role of editorial board members.
Nominations should be emailed to the SPA Hon. Secretary, Tina Haux (tinahaux@gmail.com). Please provide brief details of interests and experience, which will form the basis of a short summary on the ballot form, and the names of a proposer and a seconder (both of whom must also be SPA members), by Monday, the 11th of June 2015.

SPA Executive vacancies for 2015

There are 6 vacancies on the Social Policy Association Executive for this year:
1) 4 positions on the exec
This is a great opportunity to become involved in the work of the exec and to take on a portfolio such as annual conferences, grants or early careers. As well as taking responsibility for a particular portfolio, exec members are encouraged to join one of the standing and ad hoc working groups of the executive, e.g.  teaching and learning or preparing In Defence of Welfare II, where that is possible and something they are interested in.
2) 1 Postgrad representative (not postdoc as stated in previous email – though this position could be carried out as a job share)
In order to apply for this position you must currently be a postgraduate. Responsibilities include staying in touch with the postgraduate community, hosting events, representing the interests of postgraduates within the exec and beyond, helping postgraduates to organise events, find avenues to publish, etc., as well as running the Insight into Publishing Scheme together with the editors of Social Policy and Society. We have been very lucky as an organisation to have had a string of excellent postgraduates doing this job and we are therefore looking for someone who is enthusiastic to build on their very good work.
3) (Shadow) Honorary Secretary
This is a key role within the exec and one that offers an insight into the working of the exec as a whole. As well as organising the meetings, liaising with the administrator who is taking the minutes at meetings, organising the Annual General Meeting and co-ordinating the different roles and portfolios within the exec, the role also includes liaising with outside organisations such as the Academy of Social Sciences and HEFCE. Altogether it is a very interesting role, it is less work than perhaps it might sound. The person elected to the post will be working with myself for the coming year before taking over the role at the next AGM.
The exec usually meets four times a year. On the third or fourth Friday in January, April and September and then at the end of the annual conference. The meeting venues depend on the composition of the exec but often include places such as London, Leeds and York. Attendance at the exec meetings is essential as much of the business is conducted then. It is very difficult to be a full member of the exec without attending the meetings. Similarly, attending the annual conferences is part of the exec membership.
More information about the current members of the exec can be found on the website (http://www.social-policy.org.uk/about/the-executive/). All positions are for three years (except for the secretary which is a 3+1 with the year of shadowing) and members can be re-elected once. The elections are held at the Annual General Meeting at the annual conference in Belfast from the 6th to the 8th of July 2015. The results of the elections will not be announced at the conference itself but communicated directly to all candidates shortly after the conference. Candidates have to be SPA members. The process itself involves an application sent to myself containing a couple of paragraphs about the candidate and their ideas/ preferences for their work on the exec. In addition, it needs to include  the names of two academics, who are acting as  nominator and seconder. The deadline for this is Friday, the 12th of June 2015.
So, if you are interested yourself and have any questions or want to discuss your ideas and the details of the application, please get in touch either with myself (T.Haux@kent.ac.uk) or one of the other exec members. Also, if you know someone who would perhaps like to stand and who would be very good, please do encourage them.

Social Policy Review 28 – call for new member of the editorial team

Social Policy Review is the annual review of the UK Social Policy Association and is published by The Policy Press. Each issue presents an up-to-date and diverse review of the best in social policy scholarship, with critical analysis of progress and change in areas of major interest during the past year. We are now seeking a new member of the editorial team to ‘shadow’ the editors of Social Policy Review 28 (Menno Fenger, John Hudson and Catherine Needham) during 2015-2016 and thereafter, to serve as a co-editor for a period of three years. Details of past issues of Social Policy Review can be found on The Policy Press website (www.policypress.co.uk).

Please email Menno Fenger (fenger@fsw.eur.nl) with your expression of interest by 15 May 2015, attaching a CV and a brief statement outlining what you would bring to the role. In addition, please also include a proposal (max. 800 words) outlining the topic you would like to recommend for the ‘themed’ section of the Review in 2017. The themed section brings together a number of papers that deal with an issue of particular relevance, importance or concern to readers of SPR.

In Defence of Welfare 2 published online

crop IDOW2In 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 to welfare on British society.

This second edition, In Defence of Welfare 2, brings together nearly fifty short pieces from a diverse range of academics, policy makers and journalists to explore the impact of those reforms at a time when a general election is looming.

Contributors to this edited collection cannot help but note the increased inequalities in income, wealth and well-being which have seemingly become firmly entrenched in society over the Coalition Government’s term of office. In Defence of Welfare 2 considers the role of conditionality, and cuts in services and benefits on peoples’ lives. It focuses on extensive inequalities in social policy including the labour market, child care provision, access to health and social care, pensions, housing and education among others. Drawing on the experiences of children, women, immigrants and the unemployed, it explores how the Government has surprisingly little understanding of how inequalities are played out in society – or how effective policy is made, developed or implemented. It demonstrates how many social policies mark a relentless attack on those who are most ‘disadvantaged’, hitting those hardest without the resources to sustain an acceptable standard of living. Instead the role of the voluntary and faith sector have been important responses to the insufficiencies of welfare with the use of food-banks expanding rapidly. At the same time those most privileged in society continue to benefit from Coalition policies with the gap between those at the very top and the rest growing rapidly, whilst social mobility is at a standstill.

In addition, In Defence of Welfare 2 shows how stigma has become a key challenge for welfare recipients, particularly the poorest in society. The portrayal of the welfare state as ‘too generous’ resulting in welfare dependency is inaccurate. The language of ‘scroungers’, ‘cheats’ and ‘troubled families’ are all too prevalent in the media and beyond, and have a detrimental impact on people’s well-being. Such terminology is the result of an unfortunate dichotomy of workers vs non-workers and rich vs poor which permeates society. It is argued that a responsible civic language is required.

Importantly, In Defence of Welfare 2 considers how welfare can and should develop in order to promote a more equal society, one which provides for the needs of those with the lowest and most precarious incomes in the UK.

Editors: Liam Foster, Anne Brunton, Chris Deeming, Tina Haux

Twitter: @SocialPolicyUK #IDOWII #defendwelfare