Meet our SPA Policy Groups

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We exist to advance the teaching, research, and dissemination of knowledge in the field of social policy, and to represent the interests of our members. To help us achieve this purpose, in 2020 we commissioned and funded Policy Groups to operate from January 2021 to December 2022.We have so far commissioned four groups, and may call for further applications later in 2021.

These groups will work collaboratively to:
• review key policy developments in the UK both at the level of the Westminster UK government and the governments in the devolved nations drawing on existing evidence.
• help stimulate academic, public and policy debate about key social policy issues as well as provide material useful for social policy students and teachers.
• form the basis of networks to bring together members of the SPA with interests in each field, for example organising symposia at the SPA conference.
• organise policy roundtables and workshops to actively engage with policy-makers, practitioners and other academics beyond current SPA membership but with a view to encouraging people to join the SPA.

All our Policy Groups have clear plans to consider and report on issues relating to equality, diversity and inclusion. In particular, the ways in which policy affects Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people, women, disabled people and those in other groups with protected characteristics is a key concern for all.

Employment Policy in Context Group

This group is led by Ceri Hughes and Anne Green, who will review key employment policy developments within the UK. They are also particularly keen to create opportunities to discuss:

  • Demand-side policies and employer perspectives;
  • Skills policy; and efforts to promote good work and in-work progression, particularly as a means of overcoming disadvantage;
  • Employment support and Active Labour Market Policy (in collaboration with the ‘Employment and social security’ policy group);
  • Strategic approaches to economic recovery and addressing inequalities;
  • Setting employment policy in broader context (e.g. how other policy areas contribute, and considering how employment policies play out in particular types
image of red sign stating 'for hire'
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash


The group’s Twitter handle is @EmpContextSPA and Ceri Hughes can be emailed at

Read an introductory blog, introducing an agenda for UK employment policy in a post-pandemic world.

Employment and Social Security Policy Group

This group, led by Elke Heins and Hayley Bennett, will focus on

  • UK employment policy in comparative and international perspective
  • Links between employment and social security
  • Gender and other social inequalities
  • Employment protection, regulation, and enforcement
  • Active Labour Market Policy
Image courtesy of WAF Project

When building the employment policy network, particular emphasis will be based on including early career researchers. If you are interested in joining our Employment and Social Security group, please get in touch with @SPAemploysocsec or email and

Read an introductory blog from group members, calling for a new Beveridge Report to build back the post-pandemic economy.


Housing Policy Group

The Housing Policy Group is led by Vikki McCall, Peter Matthews, and Steve Rolfe. It aims to reintegrate housing into social policy debates – to remind academics, policy-makers and practitioners that discussions of welfare, health, inequality and the future of the welfare state are incomplete without understanding homes. Over the next year, the group will be running interactive workshops on diversity in the housing sector, the role of housing in tackling increasing inequalities, and the interactions between housing, health and social care.

Image of housekeys in a wooden door

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If you want to get involved, to raise a question, or to make a suggestion contact Steve Rolfe –, or @SPAHousing.

Read an introductory blog from the group, calling for the need for stronger foundations for housing as the welfare state's 'wobbly pillar'.

Climate Justice and Social Policy Group

The Climate Justice and Social Policy Group  is led by Matt Scott from National Energy Action, and Carolyn Snell. It will follow and critically assess the intersections between UK climate and social policy making and implementation, placing an emphasis on inequality, justice and underrepresented groups. The group will organise two SPA symposiums in 2021 and 2022 alongside a series of policy focused roundtable events.

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

If you would like to get involved do get in touch via email ( or Twitter @CUSP-SPA.

Read an introductory blog from the group, setting out an agenda for the group's plans.