Research Paper 7: Economic Regeneration, Social Cohesion, and the Welfare-to-Work Industry: Innovation, Opportunity and Compliance in the City Region

Authors: Alison Fuller, Lorna Unwin, David Guile, and Sadaf Rizvi


This paper explores the new inter-connected landscapes of provision that are emerging in relation to training, welfare-to-work, and employment policy in the UK, and the relationship this has with the State’s pursuance of its goals in regard to social cohesion and economic regeneration. It draws on the findings of a study of an English city council’s innovative use of planning laws and regulations to bind an international retail company, which wished to build a new facility in the city, into a series of social inclusion measures for the unemployed. This focus provides an empirical lens through which to study the extent to which existing theories of the ‘privatised State’ can fully explain the dynamic and shifting interplay between the State and local actors in the area of welfare-to-work pre-employment training initiatives. Furthermore, the research enables us to shed light on a group of organisations that have become central to the way in which UK governments have, since the early 1980s, sought to put into practice a raft of social policies involving young people and adults moving within and between education, paid employment, and economic inactivity. The paper examines the locus of control and power (vis-à-vis democratically elected local government institutions, national government, private and ‘third’ sector provider organisations, and business), and their relationship to the different agendas driving the regeneration of city-regions. These phenomena occur in different guises across Europe and, hence, raise questions of international importance.