The Conservative Governments' Record on Social Policy from May 2015 to pre-COVID 2020: Policies, Spending and Outcomes

This overview report provides an assessment of social policy developments under the three Conservative Governments that were in power between May 2015 and the eve of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.

The report provides a comprehensive examination of developments in ten major areas of social policy (social security; employment; early childhood; compulsory school age education; higher education; health; social care; physical safety and security; homelessness / complex needs; and social mobility) over this period. In assessing social policies and social inequalities on the eve of the pandemic, it identifies five key cross-cutting major weaknesses and structural limitations of the welfare state and public services.

In assessing outcomes across different social policy areas, it finds there is overwhelming evidence that a break in social progress across multiple critical areas of life had already occurred prior to the public health emergency and the economic and social shocks that it triggered. Across the social policy areas that we examine, many key indicators of social progress had already slowed down, stalled or gone into reverse prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Looking across the ten SPDO social policy areas, the report finds that the protective capacity of the welfare state was eroded in multiple ways, especially in relation to working age adults and children. There was a weakening of the social safety net for non-pensioner groups, with a reduced capacity to protect working age people and families with children from poverty.


Finally, looking forward, and as an input into broader discussions and debates about what is needed as the country transitions into the recovery phase from COVID-19, the report sets out five key cross-cutting social policy challenges for the 2020s.

Read the Overview Report here

Read the Summary here

Data and Charts here

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