In the wake of austerity: social impact bonds and the financialisation of the welfare state in Britain

Dowling, Emma (2017) In the wake of austerity: social impact bonds and the financialisation of the welfare state in Britain. New Political Economy, 22 (3) . pp. 294-310. ISSN 1356-3467 [Article] (doi:10.1080/13563467.2017.1232709)

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This paper provides an analysis of the financialisation of the British welfare state. In a continuation of neo-liberal privatisation and labour market activation, the financialised welfare state pursues a policy of welfare retrenchment, while engaging in forms of social engineering aimed at producing self-responsibilised individuals and communities who are financially literate, ‘investment-ready’ and economically productive. New financial instruments such as social impact bonds are deployed to these ends, both to ‘solve social problems’ and enable cost saving. Through the use of such financial instruments, the implementation of regulatory infrastructures and tax incentives, the financialised welfare state becomes a vehicle for the transfer of wealth from the public to private investors, while subjecting the domain of social policy to the vicissitudes of global financial markets. This paper offers a critique of these developments, situating the case of Britain within the broader global context and with regard to the implications for understanding the current political economy of the welfare state.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Criminology and Sociology
Item ID: 20547
Notes on copyright: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in New Political Economy on 29/09/2016, available online:
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Depositing User: Emma Dowling
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2016 09:53
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2021 14:29

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