Public Release: 

Where now for social policy in Scotland?

University of Strathclyde

The role of social policy in shaping post-referendum Scotland in areas such as health, education and social justice will be debated in an event held at the University of Strathclyde next week (Wednesday, 25 February).

Speakers will explore how concerns about social policy and social welfare shaped and drove the debate leading up to the 2014 independence poll and the future direction of welfare governance, under proposals for further devolution to the Scottish Parliament. The event will also hear about recent approaches to the devolution of welfare policy in Belgium.

The event, entitled After the referendum: the future for Scottish Social Policy, forms part of a series of UK Social Policy Association (SPA) collaborations, round tables and policy summits that are being held across the UK and which seek to bring social policy academics, policy makers, practitioners and stakeholders together.

The event is being held in conjunction with SPA, which advances the role of social policy research within policymaking, practice and wider public debates. It is being supported by Strathclyde's School of Social Work and Social Policy, the University's International Public Policy Institute (IPPI) and the IPPI Centre for Education and Social Policy. It will take place at the Strathclyde-hosted Scottish Universities Insight Institute.

Professor Bernard Harris, of the School of Social Work & Social Policy, Co-Director of the IPPI Centre for Education and Social Policy, will be among the keynote speakers at the event. He said: "The referendum galvanised public opinion like few other political events in living memory. Long before the outcome was known, it was clear that it had stimulated debate with impact far beyond the referendum itself.

"Many of the most significant issues in the referendum, and indeed in politics as a whole, are centred on social policy. They are important matters in themselves and underpin the economic debate which arguably continues to dominate the political agenda.

"Scholarship and research have much to contribute to the understanding of these complex matters and we will be taking stock, in the wake of the referendum, of the options open to Scotland in the new policy climate.

"We will also consider what lessons can be drawn from continental European experiences for the development of a more devolved approach to social policy throughout the UK in the future."

Along with Professor Harris, the event will be addressed by Dr Gerry Mooney of the Open University's Faculty of Social Sciences and Professor Bea Cantillon of the University of Antwerp.

Dr Mooney's talk will focus on ways in which issues of social welfare and social justice are linked to the question of national and constitutional futures in the Scottish context. He said: "As we have seen with the Scottish independence debate and the 2014 referendum, in the emerging and developing political and policy landscape of Scotland in 2015, issues of social justice and social welfare continue to be central and they are also important in the various imaginings of what a future Scottish society might look like.

"In this context, opposition to austerity policies and to the neoliberal politics of UK and Scottish Governments represent important drivers. The question of Scotland's future is therefore also a question of the future of welfare and social policy in Scotland but to some extent in the UK too."

The event will also include a roundtable discussion involving speakers from academia, local and central government and the third sector, with additional contributions from an invited audience.


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