A number of major disruptive forces will transform life in the UK and globally in the 2020s and beyond, creating a new set of social risks. Since the welfare state was created, the world has changed beyond recognition, with the rise of more socially liberal, individualised and globalised post-industrial societies. These transformations are set to continue – and will be joined by a plethora ‘new social risks’ – in what we call the ‘decades of disruption’ to come. The Covid-19 crisis is an example of this, but upcoming risks also include automation, climate change and ageing.
It is clear that to manage these risks fairly as a society we need to ‘future-proof’ our welfare state, but historically, welfare states in the UK and across Europe have remained ‘frozen’ in the face of new social risks. This new programme will look to ensure we can overcome this. Over the next year we will listen to the views of a wide range of individuals and groups across the country, seeking to understand the welfare state as experienced by the people who use it and work in it all over the country.
Topics examined will include the future of income security, youth employment, personal debt, community resilience and re-evaluating the status and provision of care - both paid and unpaid. We will also take a longer lens on spending priorities for the welfare state, asking how to maintain spending on 'traditional' welfare priorities while being able to meet the demands presented by 'new social risks'.