SPA at 50

“The Social Policy Association was established in 1967 as the Social Administration Association and became the Social Policy Association in 1987.
To commemorate this, we are holding an anniversary reception in October, hosted by Baroness Ruth Lister, our President, at the Cholmondeley Room and Terrace, the House of Lords.
We hope you will be able to come and join us to recognise and celebrate the achievements of the SPA over these 50 years, as we look forward to the future, with other colleagues, people and groups who have supported the SPA.
Further information will follow, but for the moment please save the date:  Tuesday 17th October 2017, 18.30 to 20.30.”

Journal of Social Policy and Social Policy and Society are seeking a Media Editor

The Journal of Social Policy and Social Policy and Society are the journals of the UK Social Policy Association and published by Cambridge University Press. Publishing four times a year, both journals include high-quality, original research on all aspects of international social policy. The Media Editor role will hold a position on both journals’ editorial boards.

We anticipate that the role will take up around 20-25 hours per month at a competitive hourly rate and the Media Editor will hold a freelance contract with Cambridge.

See full advertisement here

How to Apply

Applicants are not limited to residents of any particular country, although a high level of proficiency in the English language is essential. Nor are they restricted to anyone with an academic affiliation, anyone with an interest in the area is encouraged to apply. The appointment will be on the recommendation of the editors, initially for two years with the possibility of extension.


Interested candidates should apply by 30th June 2017. Please include a CV and a short statement (maximum two pages) explaining how you would approach the role and send your application by email to the publisher:


Hannah Patrick,



SPA Elections – Deadline June 14th – Apply Now

The Elections to editorial boards Journal of Social Policy, Social Policy & Society, and Social Policy Association Executive Committee

Deadline June 14 17.00, complete nomination form and email all nominations to

Nominations to the Social Policy Association Executive Committee, and editorial boards of the Journal of Social Policy and the Journal of Social Policy & Society are now open. Elections will take place at the Annual General Meeting of the Social Policy Association in a secret ballot. The AGM is held at Durham University Monday July 10, Palace Green room PG20, Pemberton Rooms 17.30 – 19.00. Elections will take place for:

  • three vacancies on the SPA Executive Committee
  • one vacancy on the Journal of Social Policy Editorial Board
  • one vacancy on the Social Policy & Society Editorial Board

Nominees will be notified of the election outcomes after the AGM.

SPA Executive Committee:

The SPA executive committee meets quarterly and elected members are expected to attend and contribute to the ongoing activities of the committee.

Applicants need to be a member of the Social Policy Association and nominated by two members of the association. Applicants must complete the attached form, which includes a 250-300 word statement. Please provide brief details of interests, experience and what you think you can bring to the SPA executive committee, and the names of a proposer and a seconder (both of whom must also be SPA members). The statement will form the basis of a short summary on the ballot form.

The deadline for nominations is June 14 17.00. Please send completed nomination forms to SPA Secretary, Rachael Dobson,

If you have any questions about what is involved in the role please do not hesitate to get in touch (

Nominations for the international, peer-reviewed editorial board of the Journal of Social Policy:

There is one vacancy arising on the editorial board of the Journal of Social Policy. The editorial board meets twice a year, with the January meeting in London, and the July meeting taking place at the annual Social Policy Association Conference venue.

Members are expected to attend meetings and to contribute to the strategic development of the Journal of Social Policy. There is also the opportunity to take an active role in encouraging the submission of high quality papers, as well as disseminating information regarding articles and blogs to the wider community. Members of the Journal of Social Policy Editorial Board also have an important role in supporting the co-editors by reviewing papers submitted for publication. Whilst a vital process for the Journal, Editorial Board members can expect to be asked to review between 3 to 5 articles a year, so it is not too arduous a task.

Editorial board members serve on the board for four years starting from 1st January 2018. Applications from any social policy expertise are welcome but particularly encourage those with an expertise in employment/labour market, comparative social policy and quantitative research methods to apply.

Applicants need to be a member of the Social Policy Association and nominated by two members of the association. Elections will be held at the AGM at the Social Policy Association Conference held this year at Durham University in July. If you require any further information regarding the role of editorial board member of the Journal of Social Policy please do not hesitate to contact the Co-Editors Patricia Kennett ( or Misa Izuhara (

Otherwise, nominations should be emailed to the SPA Hon. Secretary Rachael Dobson, Please provide brief details of interests, experience and what you think you can bring to the Journal of Social Policy, 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 June 14 17.00.

Nominations 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 (usually January (in London) and July (at the annual SPA conference) and members of the editorial board attend both meetings. The key role of the editorial board is to support the managing editors in defining and implementing the strategic direction of the journal, and as such, members are expected to play an active role in promoting the journal, including through encouraging high quality submissions of articles and themed section proposals. Members are also expected to review themed section proposals, and may be asked to referee articles in accordance with their expertise. Editorial board members serve on the board for four years. Nominations from previous board members are welcome provided a period of four years has passed since their last membership.

If you are interested in becoming a member of the board, please feel free to contact the editors, Majella Kilkey ( and Liam Foster ( to discuss the role of editorial board members.

Nominations should be emailed to the SPA Hon. Secretary Rachael Dobson, Please provide brief details of interests, experience and what you think you can bring to Social Policy & Society, 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 June 14 17.00.

The Inaugural Social Policy & Society Annual Lecture – Stephan Crossley and Michael Lambert

March 2017 saw the inaugural ‘Social Policy and Society Annual Lecture’ at the University of Sheffield. This year’s lecture was given by Stephen Crossley (Northumbria University) and Michael Lambert (Liverpool Hope University), who were guest editors of the journal’s January 2017 Themed Section on the UK’s Troubled Families Programme. Commenting on the success of the lecture, the co-editors of the journal, Drs Liam Foster and Majella Kilkey, said: “We are delighted to have hosted such a stimulating set of talks on this very important social policy issue, and we look forward to the Social Policy and Society Annual Lecture becoming a key event in the UK Social Policy community calendar.” To view the slides and listen to the lecture, please see below:

Academy of Social Sciences: Call for SPA nominations for new Fellows.

Dear UK Social Policy Association members

Academy of Social Sciences: Call for SPA nominations for new Fellows. Deadline for names to SPA: Friday 12th May 17.00.


The SPA is a member of the Academy of Social Sciences (AcSS). In recent years we have successfully nominated a number of SPA members to become Academicians. This is a mark of distinction and denotes an outstanding contribution to the study and/or practice of social policy. The SPA can make up to 10 nominations per year.


We have been invited to submit nominations for the next round of selection for new Fellows.


At this stage, all we need is:


·      contact details for nominee

·      short CV of nominee (no more than 2 pages)

·      brief outline of case (academic excellence and contribution to social science)

·      your name(s) and contact details.


The key criteria are: ‘a leading figure in their field and have already left a clear mark on it’ and ‘has furthered social science’


Please note that self-nominations are not possible at any stage in the process, to either the SPA or AcSS.


All proposed SPA nominees will be considered by the SPA Executive. For those supported, a full application (in AcSS format) will then be finalised in discussion with the supporter(s). Please don’t hesitate to contact Rachael if you have any questions.


Deadline for names to SPA: Friday 12th May 17.00. Please send to SPA Hon. Secretary, Rachael Dobson (

Best wishes,


Roy Parker 1931-2017

Roy Parker 1931-2017

Roy Parker, who has died at the age of 85, was the first Professor to be appointed to the Department of Social Work and Administration at the University of Bristol in 1969.Previously he had spent ten years in the Department of Social Administration at the London School of Economics, first as a research officer and then as a lecturer. His first book, based on his PhD, ‘Decision in Child Care’(1965), along with the work of Gordon Trasler and John Triseliotis, was among the first serious studies of foster care – and ahead of its time – used statistical methods to disentangle the factors associated with successful outcomes. He was a member of the Seebohm Committee on Local Government and Allied Social Services whose report (1968) laid the foundations for modern social services. He was also a member of the Milton Keynes New Town Development Corporation and chaired its social development committee.


He inherited established Social Work staff in Bristol but had to build a young Social Administration team from scratch. Notwithstanding their administrative inexperience, he delegated trustingly to his young recruits, supporting them even in robust decisions he would never himself have taken. This freed him to be an ambassador, within the Faculty of Social Science, for his comparatively new discipline – a role he performed so convincingly that, by 1981, when he stepped down as its Head, the department was offering two joint degrees, with Politics or Sociology, and a single honours degree in Social Administration. The department had by then established a national and international reputation for its research and teaching and was attracting able postgraduate students. Social Work had also been strengthened by the creation of the university’s first Chair in Social Work.


Roy Parker was a superb teacher at every level. His lectures were meticulously prepared and, like his writing, were lucid and compelling. He provided a clear framework which students could use to guide their further reading, thoughts and writing. His observations and advice were critical when necessary, but offered in a way that brought the best out of his students and colleagues, amongst whom he had enormous respect. He was a very collegiate and generous head of department, not least in facilitating the opportunities of his recruits to research, present papers and contribute to local and national policy debates. He thus created a lively and sparky department.


At the same time, he was continuing his own research and writing. In 1975, Change, Choice and Conflict in Social Policy was published and became a foundation text for many students of social policy, staying in print over 20 years. He co-authored it with Phoebe Hall, Hilary Land and Adrian Webb (all authors listed alphabetically on his insistence – another sign of his generosity). This study, informed by six case studies of policy change, argued for and demonstrated the need to study social policy within a political science framework, thus taking into account the complexity of history and wider socio-economic forces and ideologies. His case study of the Clean Air Act 1956 was chosen at a time when there was little interest in environmental policies.


This broad approach is developed further in his last major authoritative publication Uprooted: the Shipment of Poor Children to Canada 1867-1917 (2008) which had been 20 years in gestation and was completed after he had joined the Dartington Social Research Unit in 1997, having been elected a fellow of its Centre for Social Policy. By then he had become a leading expert in child care services. His historical overview Change and Continuity in Children’s Services, published in 2015, draws not only on his deep knowledge of the history of child care – including residential care, adoption, fostering and disabled children’s services – but also on his experience as an adviser to various government departments and committees as well as research consultant to numerous research projects. He never lost sight of the individual child and drew upon direct experience: of having a foster-sister and then, in the 1950s, of being a child care officer and a house-father in a residential establishment for vulnerable boys. In the Canadian archives he searched tirelessly and found the voices of some of the 80,000 children who were uprooted. This is important because, as he explained in the Preface, a major purpose of this historical study is ‘to show how the interests of children – and thereby their well-being – can fall victim to prevailing expediencies, fashion or exploitation.’


He not only kept up his research and writing after ‘retirement’ but also his love of sport He had run the first London marathon just after his fiftieth birthday and seven years after a major heart attack. He continued his long-distance running until well into his seventies. His retirement present in 1997 was a pair of racing skis (which he later exchanged for a faster pair!). Even bridge and scrabble brought out his competitive streak and his colleagues considered it no coincidence that the staff scrabble league was mysteriously abandoned the evening Roy dropped to the bottom of it while his wife Jo soared to the top.


He was born in South East London, where his father was a Southern Railways engine driver. He attended the local grammar school before studying sociology at the LSE. There followed National Service in the RAF. He is survived by Jose, whom he married in 1954, sister, his four children and eight grand children.

Roy Parker, born London 12 March 1931; died 18 January 2017, Devon


Hilary Land and David Bull


A memorial event is being held on the morning of March 17th in the Reception Room, Wills Memorial Building, University of Bristol. Details to follow

Donations to Rowcroft Hospice, Avenue Road, Torquay TQ2 5LS


Social Policy & Society first Annual Lecture – 22nd March

The first Annual Lecture of the Journal Social Policy & Society, sponsored by Cambridge University Press in association with the University of Sheffield Social Policy Research Cluster, will be held in the Diamond LT8 at the University of Sheffield on the 22nd of March from 5-6 pm. Everyone is welcome but registration is essential.

The lecture focuses on ‘troubled families’, the subject of a themed section in the January 2016 issue of Social Policy & Society, and will be delivered by Stephen Crossley and Michael Lambert, the themed section editors. The lecture will be followed by a wine reception in the exhibition space at the same venue from 6 – 7 pm to celebrate the first year of Social Policy & Society under the editorship of Liam Foster and Majella Kilkey at the University of Sheffield.


Information about the lecture, consisting of two presentations, can be found below:


Stephen Crossley – Senior Lecturer in Social Policy at Northumbria University

‘Double, double, toil and trouble’: myths, magic and statecraft in the Troubled Families Programme

Given the mysterious, almost perfect, fairy-tale like success of the ‘troubled families’ story, it is appropriate to critically examine the development of the Troubled Families Programme (TFP) by drawing on writing around alchemy, myth, magic and statecraft. This paper draws on Clarke & Newman’s work on ‘the alchemy of austerity’, Cassirer’s writing on ‘political myths’, Bourdieu’s theory of the ‘social magic’ effect of the state and Wacquant’s more recent work on ‘neoliberal statecraft’. The role of the state in the creation of ‘troubled families’ is examined before the attention turns to the performance of ‘troubled families’ via the government’s TFP. The scarcely believable, yet widely acclaimed success, of the TFP is then scrutinized, drawing on the recent publication of the evaluation of the programme. The paper concludes with a discussion of the continuing widespread belief in ‘troubled families’, even amongst practitioners and researchers.


Michael Lambert – Post-Doctoral Teaching Fellow in Early Childhood Studies at Liverpool Hope University

‘“The dragons’ harvest”? Managing “problem families” in post-war Sheffield, 1945-74.’

Louise Casey (2012, p. 1) in Listening to Troubled Families declared that the Troubled Families Programme (TFP) ‘is an opportunity to not repeat the failed attempts of the past’.  Despite being a history graduate, both her comments and the substance of the TFP represented an uncertain grasp on what ‘the failed attempts of the past’ were.  This paper reconstructs what ‘the failed attempts of the past’ actually were by exploring the management of so-called ‘problem families’ in the post-war period.  The city of Sheffield is used as a case study to explore how ‘problem families’ were defined and managed by a host of social, welfare, health and other services during the ‘golden age’ of the welfare state from 1945 to 1974.  What becomes evident is that neither Casey nor the TFP have heeded or learned from the past, and the persistent underlying ‘problem’ or ‘trouble’ of families is poverty, marginalisation and subjection.


If you are interested in attending the event please register early at to avoid disappointment.

2016 SPA Award Winners

**Celebrating the winners of the SPA Awards 2016!**

The SPA is delighted to announce the winners of the 2016 SPA awards.  The awards ceremony, held in the beautiful Ulster Hall, Belfast, on 4 July, recognised four winners in three award categories.

The Special Recognition Award is for those SPA members who have retired, are due to retire within a year of the award, or hold an Emeritus position, and whom judges feel meet at least two of the following criteria:

  • Has made a sustained contribution to research in the field of social policy
  • Has made a sustained contribution to teaching and learning of the subject (through for example, authorship of leading books, innovation and leadership in curriculum development, management and leadership within HEIs etc)
  • Has had a sustained impact on political process/discourse (advisor to government, consultant to voluntary bodies/local government, recognition by journalists, campaigners and lobbyists, activists, user communities etc)
  • Has achieved esteem measured in terms of journal editing/establishing, promotion of social policy within other social sciences, membership of research councils or similar bodies.

This year the Special Recognition Award was awarded to Professor John Clarke (Open University), who unfortunately was unable to attend the ceremony, and also to Professor Gillian Parker (University of York), pictured below.

Gillian PARKER

This year witnessed the birth of a new award, the Special International Recognition Award (SIRA).  The SIRA is the international equivalent of the SRA and is intended to award members of the social policy community in other countries who have made a significant contribution to social policy.  The SIRA is awarded at the discretion of the SPA Executive Committee to individuals who meet at least two of the criteria for the Special Recognition Award.   The winner of the first ever SIRA was Professor Kathryn Edin, Bloomberg Professor at Johns Hopkins University, USA (pictured below).

Kathryn EDIN

The award for Best Post Graduate Paper, presented at the 2015 SPA conference, was Dr Ruth Patrick, PhD student at the University of Liverpool and currently of the University of Leeds.  Ruth won the award for her paper entitled, ‘‘I feel like a bum’; the internalisation and appropriation of the ‘scrounger’ narrative by out-of-work benefit claimants in the UK’.


For a full report see the autumn issue of the SPA newsletter (forthcoming).

(c) Photographs courtesy of Elaine Hill Photography


SPA Grant Awards

Since September 2016, we have funded the following:


Sarah Brooks-Wilson and John Horton – Children and young people’s social policy journeys: Mobilities, services (in)accessibilities

This one day conference aims to raise new questions for social policy and practice through the lens of children and young people’s journey making inequalities.


Joan Abbas, Joe Chrisp, David Young, Kate Summers, Ellie Suh, Kerris Cooper & Eileen Alexander

A launch event for the’ Money, Security Social Policy Network’ to take place in November 2017.


Matthew Donnaghue

The award will support delegates attending a one day colloquium in September 2017 entitled ‘Social Cohesion in Times of Uncertainty’.


Richard Machin

To support a welfare reform summit which will discuss what known and future impacts of welfare reform can be identified at a strategic, operational and academic level.



Dierdre Duffy (Manchester Metropolitan University) – Mapping youth mental health services in England.

Recognising that youth mental health service pathways in England can be complex and unclear, the SPA grant has funded workshop activities that will be begin to map services and pathways. The workshop is for researchers and practitioners to meet together and develop further collaborative working.


Jenni Brooks (Sheffield Hallam University) – Sheffield City Region Young People’s Precarious and Placeless Labour: connecting research, policy and practice

A collaborative event connecting youth organisations, policy makers, researchers and employers to examine young people’s experiences of precarious working. The goal is to understand challenges faced by young people and engage with employers as a basis for further research and the development of an advisory group.


Keerty Nakray (Indian Social Policy Network) – Comparative and International Social Policy Theories and Methods

The grants will fund delivering workshops for PhD students and researchers to examine the links between social policy and development studies. As well as making links with the Indian Social Policy Network, the workshops will form the basis of a set of published papers.


Michael Orton (Warwick University) – Putting the security back into social security

The grant will support four half-day workshops with academics and key practitioners across Britain to stimulate new thinking about welfare and how best to move away from welfare being seen as ‘toxic’. Whilst the workshops are discussion based, there is a clear goal of creating a community of interest and ongoing dialogue.


Gideon Calder (Swansea University) and Dave Sayers (Sheffield Hallam University) – Welsh social services policy seminar

Changes in legislation and consultation regarding social services in Wales have prompted a need for dialogue between government, researchers and practitioners. In addition to ‘rapid networking’, participants will arrange future meetings to ensure ongoing dialogue. The event will not only raise the SPA’s profile with policy makers but it will also support important cross sectoral dialogue.



Making the case for social security in an era of welfare state myths and stigma; House of Lords, 13th December 2016

 A collaboration between the SPA, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) and the Journal of Poverty and Justice, this policy roundtable was timed coincide with the launch of a special issue of the latter on ‘Exploring ‘welfare’ attitudes and experiences’.

The roundtable, which took place at the House of Lords, was chaired by Baroness Lister of Burtersett (also wearing two further hats as SPA President and member of the Journal of Poverty and Social Justice editorial board) and Alison Garnham, Chief Executive of CPAG.

The starting part for the discussion was a summary of the key messages and findings form the special issue, its guest editors  – John Hudson (University of York), Ruth Patrick (University of Liverpool) and Emma Wincup (University of Leeds) – providing an overview. They were joined by two more contributors to the special issue – Neil Lunt (University of York) and Mark Monaghan (Loughborough University).

Picture caption: sadly we cannot include the usual photograph of the SPA Policy Roundtable in full flow because the House of Lords does not permit the use of cameras inside the building! In its place here is a photograph of the roundtable speakers outside of Parliament: from L-R: Neil Lunt (University of York), Ruth Patrick (& baby Nina!, University of Liverpool), John Hudson (University of York), Emma Wincup (University of Leeds), Mark Monaghan (Loughborough University).

A lively discussion followed, with many telling contributions from the invited expert audience. Particular thanks are due to Kelly Smith and Imran Hussain from CPAG for assembling such an outstanding a diverse audience; there was particularly strong representation from the third sector and think tanks, including Britain Thinks, the Children’s Society, the Equality Trust, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Living Wage Foundation, Shelter, the Westminster Policy Institute, as well as people working in Parliament, central and local government, and the media.

Three themes stood out from the discussion. First, audience members made a number of suggestions for shifting attitudes which go beyond ‘mythbusting’ (which is subject to critical evaluation in the special issue in an article by Baumberg Geiger and Meuleman). These included using individual stories of negotiating social security system or using social media to engage with claimant groups. Linked to this the second theme was to focus on the human costs of reliance on social ‘security’ in its current form; for example, in terms of poor mental health and living in poverty, and increasingly destitution. The final one was moving away from making the case for social security to focus on the reasons why individuals may become reliant on it (for example, significant numbers of people engaged in low paid, precarious work or underlying stigma to groups at high risk of worklessness such as drug users).

John Hudson (University of York), Ruth Patrick (University of Liverpool) and Emma Wincup (University of Leeds)