The UK needs an ambitious industrial strategy | The Final Report of The Industrial Strategy Commission published today

The UK’s people, places and businesses will only achieve their potential if there is a complete overhaul of how the government views industrial strategy. This is a key message of the Final Report of the Industrial Strategy Commission which has been published today.

The Commission, a joint inquiry by SPERI and Policy@Manchester, was established to help to shape the development of a new, long-term industrial strategy for the UK. It launched in March 2017 and has been chaired by Dame Kate Barker. Dr Craig Berry, Deputy Director of SPERI, and Professor Richard Jones, SPERI Associate Fellow and Professor of Physics, are members of the Commission team. Tom Hunt, Policy Research Officer at SPERI, has managed the Commission’s work.

The Commission’s Final Report makes a series of recommendations for UK policymakers. It calls for industrial strategy to be rethought as a broad, long-term and non-partisan commitment to strategic management of the economy, and says the new industrial strategy must be an ambitious long-term plan with a positive vision for the UK.

Download the full Final Report
Download the Executive Summary

The Commission’s bold new recommendations include:

  • The new strategy should commit to providing Universal Basic Infrastructure. All citizens in all places should be served by a good standard of physical infrastructure and have access to high quality and universal health and education services.
  • Health and social care must be central to the new industrial strategy. As well as offering potential for productivity gains and new markets, achieving better outcomes for people’s wellbeing must be placed at the centre of the strategy.
  • The new strategy should be organised around meeting the long-term strategic goals of the state. These include decarbonisation of the economy, investing in infrastructure and increasing export capacity.
  • Innovation policy should focus on using the state’s purchasing power to create new markets and drive demand for innovation in areas such as healthcare and low carbon energy.
  • A new powerful industrial strategy division should be established in the Treasury to ensure the new strategy is driven from the centre and embedded across government.
  • A new independent expert body – The Office for Strategic Economic Management – should be created to monitor the new strategy. It should be created on the model of the Office for Budgetary Responsibility

Dr Craig Berry, Deputy Director of SPERI:

“Industrial strategy isn’t just about supporting a small number of sectors. It should focus on big strategic challenges like decarbonisation and population ageing – and ultimately it should aim to make material differences to people’s everyday lives. This will mean rethinking how government makes policies and chooses its investments.


“SPERI is proud to have established and jointly led the Commission along with our colleagues at the University of Manchester. The new industrial strategy is a significant opportunity to reshape how the UK economy functions. We look forward to engaging further with the government and other key policymakers to take forward the Commission’s work and recommendations.”

Dame Kate Barker, Chair of the Industrial Strategy Commission:

“The UK’s people, places and industries have great strengths and untapped potential, but we must accept the reality that the economy also contains many long-established weaknesses.


“Industrial strategy needs to be embraced as a long-term plan to manage the economy strategically and embedded throughout government. If we get the new strategy right it can build on these strengths, tackle our weaknesses and above all have a positive, long-lasting impact on people’s everyday lives. This implies that sometimes it will be right to choose equity and long-term-gains over short-term efficiency.”

The Commission will present its recommendations today (Wednesday 1 November) at a launch event, hosted and chaired by the Resolution Foundation. Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will make a keynote speech at the launch.

The Business Secretary has welcomed the Commission’s support for the new industrial strategy saying:

“Our modern industrial strategy has an ambitious long-term vision for the UK that will build on our strengths as a country and deliver a high-skilled economy for the years ahead. It is encouraging to see the Commission places equal value on an industrial strategy that boosts earning power, spreads prosperity and increases opportunities for all areas of the UK.


“We welcome the positive support for a new industrial strategy by the Commission and share its ambition. We will carefully consider their contribution to this important work.”

Find out more about the work of the Commission at

1 November 2017 by
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SPERI 2018 Conference: 2nd Call for Proposals

Political Economy Ten Years After the Crisis

Halifax Hall, University of Sheffield
2-4 July 2018

The SPERI Conference is becoming increasingly recognised as a key forum for debating major contemporary issues in political economy in new and challenging ways. It takes place in Halifax Hall in a leafy part of Sheffield and always attracts a range of leading scholars, doctoral students and practitioners with an interest in political economy.

Our 2018 conference, ‘Political Economy Ten Years After the Crisis’ will take place just a few weeks before the tenth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, an event which exemplified the early stages of the financial crisis. We invite you to submit proposals for a panel of 3-4 papers, or an individual paper, related to the following conference themes:

  • The unfolding impact of the crisis: the upheaval created by the 2008 crisis and subsequent recession, including Brexit and shifting global economic power; the long-term social and political consequences of the crisis; the capitalist economy’s legitimacy crisis.
  • Responses to crisis dynamics: moves towards ‘inclusive growth’ and the rediscovery of ‘industrial strategy’; the rise of populism on the left and the right; prospects for the renewal of global governance.
  • The political economy of the longue durée: the role of historical approaches in understanding contemporary capitalist development; the 2008 crisis as a historical ‘juncture’, comparable but distinct to previous crises; the ability of political economists to foresee future change, including a deepening of the present crisis.
  • The generational implications of crisis: differential impacts and understandings of crisis across people at different life-stages; the ‘normalisation’ of crisis imperatives in young people’s political imaginaries; apparent conflict between different age cohorts.
  • Institutional upheaval and continuity: the changing role of the state in relation to the capitalist economy; how institutions ‘absorb’ crisis dynamics; the emergence of a new post-crisis institutional framework for ‘managed capitalism’.

More generally, we would be interested in panel and paper proposals which address any of SPERI’s main research areas.

The opening plenary session of the conference will be addressed by Professor Adam Tooze, Professor of History at Columbia University and author of The Deluge: The Great War and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931. Professor Tooze will be speaking about his ongoing work on the history of the financial crisis. Other speakers already committed to address plenary sessions include: Helen Thompson (University of Cambridge), Richard Roberts (King’s College London), Michael Moran (University of Manchester), Ann Pettifor (PRIME Economics) and Torsten Bell (Resolution Foundation). More plenary speakers will be announced in due course.

The conference will take place at Halifax Hall, Sheffield, from 2nd-4th July 2018. More information about the conference can be found on the SPERI conference website.

Please submit your panel or paper proposal(s) to the conference administrator by emailing by no later than Monday 18th December 2017. Please also feel free to discuss your ideas in advance with any of the conference convenors.

Colin Hay, Craig Berry and Adam Leaver

26 October 2017 by
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How can the new industrial strategy benefit the North of England? | SPERI public event

The Government will soon publish its new industrial strategy, but will it benefit people, places and industries in the North?

This is a key question that the Industrial Strategy Commission, a new inquiry jointly run by SPERI, set out to answer.

On November 1st the Commission will publish its Final Report. Join us a week later on Thursday November 9th for a major public event in Sheffield to discuss its findings and to hear from a leading Labour politician about industrial strategy.

Book your free tickets

Rebecca Long-Bailey MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and a member of Labour’s Shadow Cabinet, will outline Labour’s industrial strategy plans. Dr Craig Berry, SPERI’s Deputy Director, and a member of the Industrial Strategy Commission will present the Commission’s key findings. An audience Q&A will follow with Rebecca Long-Bailey, Craig Berry and Sheffield business leaders taking part in the panel discussion.

We hope you can join us for this public debate and have your say.

Confirmed speakers;

  • Rebecca Long-Bailey MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
  • Mike Maddock, Managing Director, Performance Engineered Solutions
  • Laura Bennett, specialist in entrepreneurship and the digital economy, member of Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership Board
  • Dr Craig Berry (Chair) Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute, University of Sheffield.

Date: Thursday 9th November 2017

Time: 18.00-19.30

Venue: Sheffield Town Hall (Reception Room A), Pinstone Street, Sheffield, S1 2HH

Register your free place:

The event is taking part during the 2017 ESRC Festival of Social Science. See the full line-up of events taking place between November 4th -11th at

24 October 2017 by
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New book published in SPERI book series

Colin Hay and Tony Payne, as joint editors of the SPERI book series with Palgrave Macmillan ‘Building a Sustainable Political Economy: SPERI Research and Policy‘, are delighted to announce the publication of a new book in the series.

The book is authored by Malcolm Campbell-Verduyn and is entitled Professional Authority after the Global Financial Crisis: Defending Mammon in Anglo-America.

Malcolm is a Research Fellow at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, Waterloo, Canada. His research combines a general focus on language and ideas in the global political economy with a specific interest in the roles of non-state actors, technologies and technical artefacts in contemporary global governance.

His new SPERI book challenges amoral views of finance as the leading realm in which mannon – wealth and profit – is pursued with little overt regard for morality. He details an enhanced ethical emphasis by leading Anglo-American professionals in the aftermath of the 2007-8 global financial crisis, but recognises that continuities in liberal values and ideas limited the impact of this enhanced ethical emphasis in fully restoring professional authority and reforming fundamentally Anglo-American finance.

The book can be ordered on the Palgrave website here.

20 October 2017 by
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Diverging Capitalisms workshop 4: Inequality, Growth and Social Democratic futures in a dividing Europe

On Wednesday 11 October, many of the SPERI team gathered in Brussels to participate in a one-day workshop entitled ‘Inequality, Growth and Social Democratic futures in a dividing Europe’. They were joined by an esteemed assortment of policy-makers, political advisers, think tank colleagues and fellow scholars.

The workshop, organised jointly by SPERI, Policy Network and the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), was the fourth in a series of four events as part of the project ‘Diverging Capitalisms? Britain, the City of London and Europe’. The aim of the project is to consider the changing nature of the British economy, its changing place within the European economic space and potential post-Brexit routes forward.

The event’s attendees debated the future of European social democracy in the context of Brexit and evolving European economies, the national and supranational scales at which social democracy ought to be staged, and the policies and implications of the EU’s industrial policy.

The first session was based on a paper presented by Prof. Ben Clift (University of Warwick), and the second on co-authored research by Dr. Laura Horn (Roskilde University) and Dr. Angela Wigger (Radboud University). The discussions were enriched by the contributions of Dr. Amandine Crespy (Université Libre de Bruxelles) and Jakob von Weizsäcker MEP (Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament) who served as discussants. This was followed by a panel discussion chaired by Peter Goodman (The New York Times, European Economics Correspondent) with representatives of each of the participating research organisations; Prof. Colin Hay (SPERI), Dr. Ernst Stetter (FEPS) and Dr. Patrick Diamond (Policy Network). Closing remarks were offered by former EBRD Board Member and EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, Prof. László Andor.

This event was preceded in the Diverging Capitalism series by two workshops at the offices of Policy Network on The City after the Crisis and EU economic governance since 2008 and one prior workshop at FEPS on Brexit and the UK Growth model.

13 October 2017 by
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The rise of food charity across Europe – international panel event

On the 14th November SPERI will welcome leading food charity researchers from Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and the UK to the University of Sheffield. An international panel event, organised by SPERI Research Fellow Hannah Lambie-Mumford, author of the new book Hungry Britain: the rise of food charity, will discuss the rise of charitable food initiatives across Europe and what it tells us about the adequacy of modern social protection and the future of welfare.

The rapid growth of food banks in the UK in recent years has become a major political and social issue. But at the same time, countries across the contintent have also witnessed similar increases in emergency food provision. The event,  organised with the University of Sheffield Sustainable Food Futures (SheFF), will discuss the following key questions:

  • Is there a hunger crisis in Europe?
  • What does the rise of food charity across the continent signify?
  • And how can we learn from each other?

The panel event will involve opening contributions from visiting researchers followed by audience questions and discussion.

Tea and coffee will be available from 5pm. The main event will take place between 5.30 and 7pm. Places are free and can be booked at:

5 October 2017 by
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Forthcoming workshop – Diverging Capitalisms: Inequality, Growth and Social Democratic futures in a dividing Europe

FEPS - SPERI - Policy NetworkOn Wednesday 11 October, the final workshop in the Diverging Capitalisms project – a SPERI collaboration with the Foundation of European Progressive Studies and Policy Network – will take place in Brussels. Scholars and policy practitioners will congregate to debate the future of social democracy in the context of a fragmenting Europe, rising inequality and the evolving foundations of European competitiveness.

Dr. Laura Horn (Roskilde University) and Dr. Angela Wigger (Radboud University) will present their analysis of the development of EU industrial policy and its political and economic consequences for European social democracy and competitiveness. Jakob von Weizsäcker MEP (Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament) and Sandra Parthie (Head of European Affairs, Institut der Deutschen Wirtschaft Köln) will participate in the session as discussant and chair respectively.

Prof. Ben Clift (University of Warwick) will present his research on the Bretton Woods institutions and argue for a post-national form of social democracy led by those supranational institutions in order to fend off further rises in inequality. Dr. Amandine Crespy (Université Libre de Bruxelles) will act as Ben’s discussant, and Lisa Kastner (FEPS) will chair the session.

The workshop will end with the concluding thoughts of the SPERI, FEPS and Policy Network teams about the findings of the Diverging Capitalisms project overall. SPERI Co-Director, Prof. Colin Hay, will be joined on the panel by FEPS Secretary General Ernst Stetter and Policy Network’s Dr. Patrick Diamond, in order to reflect upon the changing nature of the British and European economies, the consequences of economic and national fragmentation, and the progressive paths forward from here.

If you wish to receive more information about the Diverging Capitalisms project or about forthcoming events, please contact SPERI’s Dr. Daniel Bailey.

29 September 2017 by
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Researching uncertainty & Revisiting the developmental state – new SPERI Comment blog series launched

This week we are launching two new SPERI Comment blog series.

Revisiting the developmental state

The first series, co-ordinated by Matt Bishop and Tony Payne, will explore the developmental state, a concept that first emerged in political economy debates in the early 1980s. In their introductory blog, Matt and Tony argue that it is time for fresh thinking about developmental states and to open up a new debate about the potential gains offered by this longstanding and core concept in the study of the political economy of development.

The series will feature contributions from David Booth, Shaun Breslin, Courtney Lindsay, Valbona Muzaka, Ziya Öniş, Kunal Sen and Henry Wai-chung Yeung.

Researching uncertainty

Craig BerryThe second series, co-ordinated by Craig Berry, will explore uncertainty and the business of predicting the future in political research.

In his new blog to begin the series Craig Berry sets out why political economists should embrace uncertainty as a key foundation of inquiry. He argues that ‘the point of understanding uncertainty is not to further enhance our power to predict the future, but rather to more comprehensively understand the present. Unless we are able to produce new, and better, knowledge about uncertainty, we will remain in the dark.’

The series will feature contributions from Glen O’Hara, Helen Thompson, Paul Krishnamurty and Muhammad Ali Nasir amongst others.

Both series will run on the SPERI Comment blog over the coming weeks.

If you would like to write for the SPERI Comment blog please take a look at our blog guidelines and contact our blog editor Tom Hunt

27 September 2017 by
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Tackling Insecure Work: political actions from around the world –new SPERI report for GMB

Tackling Insecure Work: political actions from around the world’ a new report by SPERI for the GMB trade union has been published today (September 25th)

The new report by Tom Hunt and Sean McDaniel sets out a range of examples of how and where political action is being taken around the world to tackle different forms of insecure work and improve job security.

It highlights new legislation, campaigns and partnerships that seek to protect and enhance workers’ rights and to restrict and challenge insecure forms of work.

Download the report: Tackling Insecure Work: political actions from around the world

Tom Hunt, Policy Research Officer for SPERI and co-author of the report:

“Around the world, from Germany to New Zealand, politicians from across the political spectrum have taken steps to tackle insecure forms of work. Ultimately the UK will require its own responses but these international examples all point to key questions and lessons that workers, policymakers, trade unions, and other institutions in the UK can draw upon.”

The report, which includes a foreword by Tim Roache, General Secretary of GMB, focuses on ten areas around the world where actions are being taken to improve job security.

  • Zero and short hour contracts
  • ‘Just-in-time’ scheduling
  • Fixed-term temporary contracts
  • Temporary agency work
  • Strategic employee sharing
  • Unpaid overtime
  • Protections for self-employed freelance workers
  • Improving pay and conditions on online platforms
  • Portable benefit schemes
  • Organising to support self-employed workers

The report looks at actions being taken by national government and at city and regional level, in traditional sectors and in the gig economy, and to support freelance self-employed workers as well as part-time and full-time workers. It concludes by putting forward five key points that could help shape future efforts to tackle insecure work in the UK.

25 September 2017 by
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‘For the many not the few’: SPERI annual lecture to be delivered by Stephanie Flanders

Leading economics journalist Stephanie Flanders will deliver the 2017 SPERI Annual Lecture at the University of Sheffield tomorrow (Tuesday 26 September 2017).

Her talk, ‘For the many not the few’: do we know how to deliver inclusive growth?,’ will be delivered to a sold-out audience in Firth Hall. The lecture will also be streamed live on Facebook from 6pm at:

The prestigious SPERI Annual Lecture has previously been delivered by former Labour leader Ed Miliband, ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston, Guardian journalist George Monbiot, Lord Robert Skidelsky and, most recently in November 2016, the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

Dr Craig Berry, Deputy Director of SPERI:

“Stephanie Flanders is one of Britain’s most high-profile and distinguished economic journalists. The worlds of finance and big business often seem remote to most people but Stephanie is an expert at communicating economic news and connecting it to everyday life.

“We are delighted to welcome her to the University of Sheffield to deliver the SPERI Annual Lecture. As we head towards post-Brexit Britain it is clear that a more inclusive form of growth is urgently needed, as such her lecture could not be more timely and relevant.”

Stephanie FlandersStephanie Flanders was the BBC Economics Editor from 2008 to 2013, where her analysis and on-air commentary were widely respected and broadcast around the world.

Prior to joining the BBC in 2002, she worked as a reporter at the New York Times and a speechwriter and senior advisor to US Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers in the second Clinton Administration, when she was closely involved in the management of the 1997-8 emerging market financial crises.

She has also been a Financial Times leader-writer and columnist, and an economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the London Business School. She was a scholar at Balliol College, University of Oxford, where she obtained a first class degree, and attended Harvard University as a Kennedy Scholar at the Kennedy School of Government.

In 2013 she became Chief Market Strategist for the UK and Europe for J.P. Morgan Asset Management where she delivered insight into the economy and financial markets to thousands of professional investors across the UK, Europe and globally.

She was also the chair of the independent RSA Inclusive Growth Commission launched in 2016 which investigated how local economies can drive growth, productivity and prosperity through greater economic inclusivity.

In October 2017 Stephanie will return to journalism when she leaves J.P. Morgan to lead a new economics desk at Bloomberg in New York.

Her talk will be followed by a Q&A session. Follow the debate on twitter through the #SPERIFlanders hashtag.

25 September 2017 by
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How to localise pension investment and support local economies – new SPERI research project

People throughout the UK create a large amount of investable capital through saving for a pension. Yet this capital is rarely retained in the areas they live and work in. SPERI is embarking on a major new research project funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust which will examine localising pension investments.

The project, led by Dr Craig Berry, will assess the potential for new ways to be found in which pension capital, from both private and public sector pensions funds, could be retained locally and used to increase sustainable, long-term investment.

Through stakeholder engagement and analysis of current pension fund investments, the project will develop proposals for new platforms to enable greater localisation of pension fund investments, and associated regulatory frameworks. It will explore key questions such as:

  • Where are the current and potential investment opportunities in local economies for pensions funds?
  • What are the barriers to pension funds investing locally?
  • What changes could local policymakers and businesses make to localise more pension investments?

In the first phase of the project a series of private workshops will be held in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Sheffield in autumn 2017. Each session will explore new ideas for localising investments and focus on the challenges and opportunities in each city region. Participants will include stakeholders from pension funds, councils and city region organisations, national and local businesses, universities as well as expert representatives from the finance and pension industries.

Dr Craig Berry, Deputy Director of SPERI, has extensive experience of working in the field of pensions policy, including as a pensions policy advisor at HM Treasury, Head of Policy and Senior Researcher at the International Longevity Centre-UK and at the Trades Union Congress where he was Pensions Policy Officer.  The project will also involve Tom Hunt, Policy Research Office at SPERI, and Adam Barber, doctoral researcher at SPERI.

For further information about the project please contact Dr Craig Berry –

14 September 2017 by
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New book on ‘depoliticization’ featuring SPERI researchers

We are pleased to report that Anti-politics, Depoliticization and Governance – edited by SPERI director Colin Hay, with Paul Fawcett, Matthew Flinders and Matthew Wood will be published by Oxford University Press on 7 September 2017.

The book examines the relationship between moves towards depoliticization and the apparent rise of political disaffection within broader governance process. It brings together a number of contributions from scholars who have a varied range of concerns but who nevertheless share a common interest in developing the concept of depoliticization through their engagement with a set of theoretical, conceptual, methodological, and empirical questions.

SPERI’s deputy director Craig Berry and research fellow Scott Lavery also feature in the book, with their co-authored chapter ‘Towards a Political Economy of Depoliticization Strategies: Help to Buy, the Office for Budget Responsibility, and the UK Growth Model’. Berry and Lavery examine macroeconomic policy-making in post-crisis Britain in order to demonstrate the ways in which depoliticization strategies are embedded within distinctively capitalist forms of social organization.

Click here for more information about the book and to purchase a copy.


7 September 2017 by
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Official launch of the PSA political economy group in Cambridge

SPERI is delighted to report that the Political Studies Association’s British and Comparative Political Economy Specialist Group will be formally launched in September. The group is convened by SPERI’s deputy director Craig Berry, and honorary fellow Jeremy Green.

The group will hold its inaugural workshop at the University of Cambridge on Wednesday 13th September. More information about the workshop, which is co-convened by Craig, Jeremy and SPERI research fellow Scott Lavery, can be found here:

On the evening of the 13th (6pm), the group will host a large, interactive public event in Cambridge’s Webb Library, titled Politics in Uncertain Times: What Will the World Look Like in 2050, and How Do You Know?  The event will feature a fantastic panel, including political economist Helen Thompson, pollster and academic Joel Faulkner Rogers, historian Glen O’Hara and political betting expert Paul Krishnamurty.

The panel will discuss future trajectories of political and economic change, as we try to make sense of where this period of ‘great uncertainty’ is heading. Questions the event will consider include:

  • Considering the surprise by which many events have taken society, should we attempt to be predictive and anticipatory when conducting political and economic analysis? Or, is the world so inherently unpredictable that we should avoid taking part in such activity?
  • How much does the weight of history hang over future trajectories of political and economic change? Has the study of the future become too detached from the study of history?
  • What impact are political and economic changes going to have on future generations? How will the young of today shape these changes?

For more information and to register for the public event, visit:

18 August 2017 by
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The declining salience of ‘saving’ in British politics | New SPERI brief

A new report published today by SPERI finds that the salience of the concept of ‘savings’ in British political discourse appears to have declined.  In this new SPERI British Political Econony Brief, Craig Berry explores how savers and the saving process have been discussed in the election manifestos of the Conservative Party and the Labour Party since 2005, up to the most recent election in June 2017. Noting recent shifts, the Brief considers whether the era of ‘asset-based welfare’ in British statecraft is coming to an end.

Dr Craig Berry, SPERI deputy director and author of the report, said the positive discourse on saving, which was most strongly promoted by Labour in 2010 and the Conservative Party in 2015, has now largely disappeared. He added:

It is telling that both parties were in government rather than opposition at the time, insofar as this suggests that ‘asset-based welfare’ is an endemic feature of British economic statecraft, irrespective of which party is in government, and irrespective of what parties say while in opposition. But the 2017 general election appears to have signalled a significant shift.


Whereas Ed Miliband’s 2015 agenda can now be seen as an important ‘gateway’ between New Labour and Corbynism, the shift in Conservative discourse has been more abrupt. However, we should be careful before declaring the onset of a new era in economic statecraft around saving; neither party won a majority at the 2017 election. It is possible that both parties – particularly the Conservatives – will revive a positive discourse around saving in order to reassemble a compelling electoral offer. Asset-based welfare is down, but not necessarily out.

The full publication can be downloaded here. Through its series of British Political Economy Briefs, SPERI hopes to draw upon the expertise of its academic researchers to influence the debate in the UK on sustainable economic recovery.

1 August 2017 by
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Tony Payne stands down as SPERI Director

Today is Tony Payne’s final day as Co-Director of SPERI. He is retiring from this position, but will retain an ongoing role in SPERI in the future as a Professorial Fellow. Tony was the founding Co-Director of SPERI with Colin Hay and has led SPERI with Colin since we were established in 2012.

In his new Professorial Fellow role Tony will be continuing to research and write for SPERI, especially on the changing nature of development. He will continue to lead our research programme on ‘Development and the Governance of a Globalising Political Economy’, working jointly with Matt Bishop.

Earlier this month we marked SPERI’s fifth anniversary. We have achieved a lot over the last five years and none of it would have been possible without Tony’s leadership, drive and support. As we look ahead to our next five years, we already have an extensive and exciting research agenda underway and we are all looking forward to continuing to work with Tony.

Thanks for everything Tony!

31 July 2017 by
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New Pivot Book: The Political Economy of Britain in Crisis

The Eighth Pivot book in the ‘Building a Sustainable Political Economy‘ series has been published.

Researched and written by Christopher Kirkland, this book explores two recent crises in British political economy: the crisis of 1976–9, for which the trade unions were impugned, and the 2007 economic crisis, for which bankers were (at least initially) blamed. The author argues that the “crisis resolution” of the former – principally the Thatcherite reforms of the 1980s – led to the emergence of the banking crisis. Further, Kirkland demonstrates how narratives of blame have emerged and were used in both instances to promote specific agendas. Narrations of blame and crises were used to curb the trade union powers in the 1980s, whilst the 2007 crisis was quickly reframed as one of excessive government spending, which in turn has led to policies of austerity.

The book can be purchased via Palgrave.

20 July 2017 by
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SPERI celebrates its fifth anniversary at the Bank of England

SPERI was delighted to celebrate its fifth anniversary yesterday (Wednesday 12 July 2017) with an event and reception at the Bank of England.

The Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) was launched at the University of Sheffield in 2012 to research the political and economic issues posed by the global financial crisis. Since then, we have published a huge number of reports, papers and briefings, providing a valuable insight into key events in the economic and political sphere.

Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England

Andrew Haldane, University of Sheffield alumnus and Chief Economist at the Bank of England, hosted last night’s celebration event and delivered a keynote speech, while President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, Professor Sir Keith Burnett, chaired.

Other speakers included Dawn Foster, a regular political contributor to the Guardian, the London Review of Books and the Independent; Gavin Kelly, Chief Executive of The Resolution Trust; and Vivien Schmidt, Professor of International Relations and Political Science at Boston University and Chair of SPERI’s International Advisory Board.

A panel discussion followed the talks, in which the audience was invited to participate. Topics of discussion included sustainable economic growth, climate change, growing inequality and global shifts in power.

Professor Tony Payne, Co-Director of SPERI, talked about SPERI’s work over the past five years. After the event, he said:

“SPERI was set up by the Vice-Chancellor five years ago to create a new space to research the many consequences of the global financial crisis and to address some of the huge economic and political challenges that resulted. We have worked hard and achieved a lot, producing many papers, reports, briefs and books and posting a regular blog called ‘SPERI Comment’. We are now working to identify the big political economy questions that will shape our work over the next five years. The insights offered by the speakers and the members of the audience at the panel discussion will help enormously in this respect.”

13 July 2017 by
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Laying the Foundations – the first major report from the Industrial Strategy Commission

Laying the FoundationsThe Industrial Strategy Commission has today published its first major report, Laying the Foundations. The report outlines the key foundations for a successful long-term industrial strategy.

The Commission, an independent, authoritative inquiry into the development of a new, long-term industrial strategy for the UK, has been established jointly by SPERI and Policy@Manchester and is chaired by Dame Kate Barker. Dr Craig Berry, Deputy Director of SPERI, and Professor Richard Jones, SPERI Associate Fellow and Professor of Physics, are members of the Commission team. Tom Hunt, Policy Research Officer at SPERI, manages the Commission’s work.

READ THE REPORT: Laying the Foundations

Laying the Foundations argues that  UK has a compelling need to introduce a framework for strategic economic management – and needs an industrial strategy with a positive vision for our future. The report also outlines the serious and longstanding weaknesses and challenges affecting the UK economy – and the significant opportunities.

Dr Craig Berry, Deputy Director of SPERI:

“With the right foundations and a positive vision industrial strategy offers the potential to create huge wealth and greater prosperity and achieve outcomes that will benefit current and future generations. For this to be possible our first and most important conclusion is that the UK needs a new institutional framework that can deliver a new strategy. Fresh thinking is also needed about the importance of place, how public interventions should be assessed, the funding of research and development, how to increase investment throughout the economy and the role of the government in procurement.”

Dame Kate Barker, Chair of the Industrial Strategy Commission:

“Summer 2017 is a critical moment for the UK economy. The recent election has resulted in political fragility against a backdrop of growing economic concerns following the EU referendum. Now more than ever we need long-term strategic economic management to enable the UK to respond to current challenges and invest in our people, places and industries to achieve greater future prosperity. This is what industrial strategy is and how it should be thought about by the government as it prepares its new strategy. This will only be successful if it has the correct foundations and offers a positive vision for our country’s future. This report sets out how that can be achieved.”

Find out more about the Industrial Strategy Commission here.

Key points from Laying the Foundations:

  • As it prepares a new strategy, the government must think about industrial strategy as strategic economic management. It involves the long-term co-ordination of all interactions between public and private sectors. It should become the organising framework for UK supply-side economic policy.
  • Industrial strategy is not about the government handing out money to chosen businesses or sectors. The state’s role is to create the conditions for long-term investments in productive and innovative business activity, ensuring the economy is geared towards meeting key national challenges.
  • The Commission has identified seven themes that the Government must ensure are the foundations of a new industrial strategy.
  • The foundations are: a long-term set of institutions to determine, implement and monitor a new strategy; recognition of the importance of place and the need to increase growth and productivity everywhere; a joined-up approach to science, research and innovation; a strong competition regime; an increased investment rate; a comprehensive effort to improve skills, and effective use of the state’s purchasing and regulating power.
  • The new strategy must be informed by a positive vision of a future destination for the UK. This can be achieved by reframing the challenges the country faces as strategic goals to be met. These goals are: decarbonisation of the energy economy; ensuring adequate investment in infrastructure; developing a sustainable health and social care system; unlocking long-term investment; supporting high-value industries in building export capacity, and enabling growth in all parts of the UK.

Follow the Commission on twitter @IndStrategyComm and sign up to receive updates about the Commission by email here.

10 July 2017 by
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Professor Martin Jones appointed Honorary Research Fellow at SPERI

Martin JonesWe are very pleased to announce that Professor Martin Jones has become an Honorary Research Fellow of SPERI.

In May 2017 Martin left the University of Sheffield to become Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor of Human Geography, and Co-Director of the Centre for City-Region Dynamics at Staffordshire University. We are very pleased that Martin will remain officially attached to SPERI and we look forward to continuing to work with him.

At the University of Sheffield Martin was Director of the White Rose Social Science Doctoral Training Centre (WRDTC) and Professor of Urban and Regional Political Economy. Prior to coming to Sheffield, Martin spent 15 years at the University of Aberystwyth where he was Pro Vice-Chancellor and Co-Director of the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD). Martin is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, originator and co-editor of the journal Territory, Politics, Governance, and the author or editor of 10 books and over 150 publications.​ Martin’s current research, funded by the ESRC, is interested in the geographies of state intervention and civil society through localism and city-region building in Sheffield, Manchester, Swansea, Cardiff, and Stoke-on-Trent.

6 July 2017 by
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Hungry Britain: the rise of food charity | New book by Hannah Lambie-Mumford

A new book by SPERI Research Fellow Hannah Lambie-Mumford is published today by Policy Press. Hungry Britain: the rise of food charity draws on empirical research with the UK’s two largest charitable food organisations and explores the prolific rise of food charity over the last 15 years and its implications for overcoming food insecurity.

As the welfare state withdraws, leaving food banks to protect the most vulnerable, Hannah Lambie-Mumford questions the sustainability of this system and asks where responsibility lies – in practice and in theory – for ensuring everyone can realise their human right to food.

The book argues that effective, policy-driven solutions require a clear rights-based framework, which enables a range of actors including the state, charities and the food industry to work together towards, and be held accountable for, the progressive realisation of the right to food for all in the UK.

The book is available to purchase from Policy Press.

5 July 2017 by
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