The deliberate impotence of active labour market policy

The UK is rightly understood as a pioneer of ‘active labour market policy’ (ALMP). The interventions encapsulated by this framing have long existed in some form, but became more central to economic statecraft in the UK in the 1990s as part of the ‘supply-side revolution’.

Yet the coalition government’s changes to ALMP – which I characterise, in a SPERI paper launched today, as ‘hyper-Anglicisation’ – have emptied the notion of a supply-side employment strategy of virtually all meaning. Yet although the coalition regularly condemns the programmes it inherited from Labour, there is no doubt that the hyper-Anglicisation process was under way before 2010.

This hollowing out of policy is best detailed in comparative context, and with reference to some little-known facts about UK active labour market policy in this regard. At the most basic level, despite its status as ALMP pioneer, the UK spends remarkably little on this policy area.

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Image: Iain Duncan Smith