SPA Social Policy Groups – update and call for new groups

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The purpose of the Social Policy Association (SPA) is to advance research, teaching 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 2021 the SPA launched a ‘Policy Groups’ initiative.

Over the past few years, Policy Groups have been organising open events and meetings for members, running social media accounts, producing blogs, learning materials and more.

Building on this successful experience, we would like to invite members to apply for the opportunity to form new policy groups, as well as to get in touch if they would like to join one of the existing groups. The deadline to apply for a new group is Monday 2nd October 2023.

About the SPA Policy Groups

SPA Policy Groups work collaboratively to:

  • review key policy developments in the UK and beyond;
  • 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.

There are currently three active policy groups within the SPA. Following the successful activities of the 2021-2023 period, all three groups have been confirmed for a further 2-year period, starting in October 2023.

  • Employment Policy Group. This group brings together two formerly separate groups (the Employment Policy in Context Group and the Employment and Social Security Policy Group). The group’s areas of focus include: Employment, skills and labour market policies (in the UK and in comparative perspective); Employment protection, regulation, and enforcement; Strategic approaches to economic recovery and addressing inequalities; Setting employment policy in broader contexts. If you are interested in joining the Employment Policy Group network, please contact Ceri Hughes ( or Katy Jones ( People are also encouraged to share information through the group mailing list (via jiscmail) and to follow the twitter account @SPAemploysocsec for updates.
  • Housing Policy Group. The group’s overarching goal is 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 and housing. So far, the group has been running workshops and symposia, producing introductory teaching materials and putting together a themed section in Social Policy and Society. The group leaders are always keen to hear new suggestions for their work and welcome new members, particularly Early Career Researchers. If you want to get involved, to raise a question, or to make a suggestion contact Steve Rolfe:
  • Climate Justice and Social Policy Group. The Climate Justice and Social Policy Group is currently led by Carolyn Snell and Harriet Thomson. It follows and critically assesses the intersections between UK climate and social policy making and implementation, placing an emphasis on inequality, justice and underrepresented groups. Between 2021-2022 the group organised two SPA symposiums alongside a series of policy focused roundtable events, and in 2023 published a themed section on the climate crisis in the Journal of Social Policy and Society. The group is currently developing a schedule for 2023-2024. If you would like to get involved, please get in touch with Carolyn Snell on

For further information about the SPA policy groups – including introductory blogs – visit:

Call for new SPA Policy Groups

The Social Policy Association is now calling members to apply for the opportunity to form new policy groups, running in first instance for a 2-year period from October 2023 to September 2025. There will be the possibility of an extension if the work of the groups is considered successful.

We would be particularly interested in groups working in the areas of Education and Health and Social Care; but we are open to applications for group focusing on any other Social Policy area or issue which fits with the scope and aims of the SPA.

Issues relating to equality, diversity and inclusion will be explicitly considered and reported on by each group. 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 will be reviewed in all Policy Groups.

Over the first (two-year) period, each group is expected, as standard, to:

  • Produce two SPA blogs (one in 2023-2024, one in 2024-2025) containing a short discussion of key recent developments in the field.
  • Give a brief presentation at an online launch event in spring 2024.
  • Organise one or more virtual or in-person policy roundtables/workshops.
  • Organise a symposium at both the 2024 and 2025 SPA conferences.
  • Write a chapter for a forthcoming issue of Social Policy Review.
  • Provide a list of key resources and SPA members with an interest in the field.

A web page (hosted on the SPA website) will include the following materials:

  • A description of the policy groups.
  • Updates and reports on the activities of the groups.
  • Links to blogs and resources.

Group Teams and Leaders

The SPA will commission one core team for each of the Groups. Ideally, there should be two team leaders, one of whom will be a more experienced academic, with the other being someone at an earlier career stage. Each team is expected to normally comprise 4–8 members (all of whom should be members of the SPA) but they will also be expected to provide a network for much larger numbers of people interested in their work (who may not all be members of the SPA). Criteria for selection of the core teams are as follows:

  • Membership of the SPA (essential).
  • Relevant expertise and experience in the field, demonstrating an ability to meet the aims of this initiative, and produce the outputs specified above (essential).
  • Inclusion of early career colleagues/PhD researchers.
  • Inclusion of a diverse mix of colleagues from e.g. different backgrounds, types of institutions and disciplinary specialisms (and people from policy and practice as well as academia).

Resources available

Each team will be awarded up to £3,000 to support their work over two years. Teams can spend the resource on whatever will help them (including the organisation of roundtables/workshops), with the agreement of and in communication with the SPA executive.

The SPA executive will support the groups in advertising their activities to SPA members, including through the association’s website and social media channels.

Process for application and selection

Those wishing to apply to set-up a new SPA Policy Group should email the Impact and Engagement Portfolio lead, Alessio D’Angelo, by Monday 2nd October 2023, at the following address: .

Please also contact Alessio for any further information about this initiative.

Proposals (of no more than two sides of A4) should:

  • Indicate the name of the Policy Group
  • Specify the names, positions and organisations of all core team members and identify which members of the team will be joint team leaders;
  • Describe how the proposed team meets the criteria above;
  • Set out details of how much funding is being sought and how it will be used;
  • Set out details of how the team will organise themselves and share the work involved.

In addition, applications should provide a two-page CV for each proposed core team member, all of whom should have already been consulted on the proposal and agreed to be included.

On submitting your proposal, please ensure the subject of the email is ‘SPA Policy Group application’.