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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Hayley Bennett

Hayley Bennett
Dr Hayley Bennett
Lecturer in Social Policy
4f1, 18 Buccleuch Place Edinburgh UK EH8 9LN
+44 (0)131 6511325 (currently unavailable, please email).
Research Interests
Contractualism, Welfare Markets, Unemployment, Labour Market, Poverty, Welfare reform politics, Welfare-to-Work, Regionalism, Third Sector, Inequality, public service reform, Public policy, social enterprise, Devolution and social security, Social Policy, Multi-level governance, Community Planning, local economic development, localism, policy implementation, social security

I am an experienced researcher of public administration focusing on the design and delivery of welfare services, social security, labour market programmes, and anti-poverty policies. I question how and why various levels of government, private, and third sector organisations are involved in designing and implementing public policies to address inequality in the UK. I was a member of the Scottish Parliament's Expert Panel on Social Security (2017-2019). 

predominately use qualitative methodologies and specialise in collaborative research approaches working with Scottish Government, third sector organisations, and local authority partners. This includes four years as a key member of the What Works Scotland  team (WWS, Funded by Scottish Government and ESRC) .  WWS was a large and intensive project conducting empirical research and generating impact on public service reform in Scotland.  I led or co-led numerous workstreams, including designing and piloting a large, innovative, Collaborative Action Research programme (2015-2018) involving 90 policymakers and practitioners creating a series of  research  and evidence-use inquiries.  Prior to this I worked on a comparative European social policy project (Combating Poverty in Europe) exploring minimum income provision from a multi-level governance perspective in six European countries: Germany,  Italy, Poland, Norway,  Sweden, and United Kingdom. (Funded by EU FP7). I have also worked in the public sector designing and delivering regeneration and economic development initiatives in post-industrial localities across the UK.  

Other research activities (selected)

  • Co-Investigator (2015) Labour market activation policies in times of austerity (UK case study) for the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI)
  • Co-Investigator (2014-2016) 'Blessed are the poor'. This project explores the role of Faith Based Organisations in anti-poverty work since 2010. (Funded via UoE, SSPS, Strategic Research Grant)


  • PhD, University of Edinburgh (2008-2013) (ESRC CASE studentship)
  • MSc by Research in Social Policy, University of Edinburgh (ESRC CASE studentship)
  • MA Local and Regional Economic Development, Aberystwyth University  (IGES award)
  • BA Human Geography (First class honours) Aberystwyth University (UWA scholarship)

Publications (selected, see Edinburgh Research Explorer for a detailed list)  

Bennett, H., and Brunner, R. (2020) ‘Nurturing the Buffer Zone: Conducting collaborative action research in contemporary contexts’ Qualitative Research Journal (In-press).

Heins, E., and Bennett, H. (2018) ‘Retrenchment, conditionality, and flexibility- UK labour market policies in the era of austerity’ in Theodoropoulou, S. (ed) 2018, 'Labour reforms in the era of pervasive austerity: European perspective.Policy Press.

Bennett, H. (2017) Re-examining British Welfare-to-Work Contracting using a Transaction Cost Perspective. Journal of Social Policy, Vol 46, 1, 129-148

Heins, E., and Bennett, H. (2016) "Best of both worlds’? A comparison of third sector providers in health care and welfare-to-work markets in Britain." Social Policy and Administration, Vol 50, 1, 39–58.

Bennett, H. (2016) "Anti-poverty activities in a liberal welfare model: Local levers and multi-level tensions in Glasgow, UK" in Johansson, H., and Panican, A. Eds. Combating Poverty in Local Welfare Systems- Active Inclusion Strategies in European Cities. Palgrave

Angelin, A., Bennett, H., and Zielenska, M. (2016) "Provisions of relevance for lone mothers, long-term unemployed and working poor in five countries- are provisions multidimensional and integrated?" in Halvorsen, R. and Hvinden, B. Combating Poverty in Europe: Active Inclusion in a Multi-level and Multi-Actor context. Edward Elgar.

Recent knowledge exchange activities (selected, see Edinburgh Research Explorer for up to date list) 

  • Member of the Scottish Parliament's Social Security Committee Expert Panel (2017-2019)
  • Speaker at various Scottish Government events on public service reform and collaborative governance 
  • Member of Poverty Alliance's national steering group for 'Challenge Poverty Week' (2017) 
  • Founded and run the 'Let's discuss poverty' Blog Collection for the Poverty Alliance's Challenge Poverty Week 2014 and 2015, 2017


Social Policy Association (SPA), Regional Studies Association, Welfare Reform Network,  The Poverty Alliance, University of Edinburgh's 'Work, Economy and Welfare research group'.