School of Social and Political Science

Dr Hayley Bennett

Job Title

Lecturer in Social Policy

Hayley Bennett photo

Room number

4f1, 18 Buccleuch Place

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  • PhD Social Policy, University of Edinburgh (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)


(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 (Early online view).

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.

Teaching 2020-2021:

  • Course convenor: Qualitative Methods for Social Policy (forthcoming)
  • Personal Tutor: MSc Public Policy
  • Teaching contributions: Policy in Action, Politics of the Welfare State, Labour Market Policy in Europe, Inequality and the Life Course.

Knowledge Exchange and Impact

(selected, see Edinburgh Research Explorer for up to date list)

  • Special Advisor to the Scottish Affairs Committee (UK Parliament) for the Welfare Inquiry (consultancy Nov 2020-April 2021).
  • UOA20 REF Impact Research Fellow for Social Policy and Social Work (2019-2020).
  • Member of the Scottish Parliament's Expert Panel on Social Security (2017-2019).
  • Founded and run the 'Let's discuss poverty' Blog Collection for the Poverty Alliance's Challenge Poverty Week 2014 and 2015, 2017.
  • Recent activities: Covid Realities blog, Nov 2020: Precarious work, precarious research?


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

Research interests

Research interests

Contractualism, Welfare Markets, Unemployment, Labour Market, Poverty, Welfare reform politics, Welfare-to-Work, Regionalism, Third Sector, Inequality, public service reform, Public policy, Devolution and social security, Social Policy, Multi-level governance, local economic development, localism, policy implementation, social security

My research examines inequality and poverty by studying the design and delivery of welfare services, social security, labour market programmes, and anti-poverty initiatives. I often draw on public administration & public policy literature to examine 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 predominately use qualitative methodologies and specialise in collaborative research approaches, for example working with Scottish Government, third sector organisations, and local authority partners. Outside academia I have worked in the public sector designing and delivering economic and community regeneration projects in post-industrial localities across the UK.

I have led or contributed to numerous research projects and examined issues such as:

  • The use of quasi-markets and UK welfare-to-work policies (especially third sector involvement)
  • The role of the third sector in reducing poverty post 2010
  • 'Welfare subjects' and charitable food aid in low income neighbourhoods in Scotland
  • Collaborative governance and street-level practice in relation to benefit sanctioning
  • Collaborative action research in multi-agency settings to address inequalities in Scotland
  • Governance-driven democratic innovations to increase participation in public services
  • Multi-level governance and anti-poverty policies in UK

Research projects (selected)

  • 'What Works Scotland': Public Service Reform in Scotland to tackle 'wicked issues'. (Funded by Scottish Government, ESRC, 2015-2019)
  • 'Combating Poverty in Europe': Comparative European social policy examining minimum income provision and multi-level governance in six European Countries; Germany, Italy, Poland, Norway, Sweden, and United Kingdom. (Funded by EU FP7, 2013-2015)
  • 'Labour market activation policies in times of austerity' (UK case study). (Funded by the European Trade Union Institute 2015)
  • 'Blessed are the poor': Exploring the role of Faith Based Organisations in anti-poverty work since 2010. (Funded via UoE, SSPS, Strategic Research Grant, 2014-2016)

Topics interested in supervising

Employment support, Welfare-to-work, Active Labour Market Policies, Local anti-poverty initiatives, UK social security (design and implementation), UK third sector, UK policy-making (poverty, welfare state), Scottish policy-making, Policy implementation (eg street-level bureaucracy).

Works within

Staff Hours and Guidance

Tuesday 9am-11am (please email in advance to schedule an online Teams appointment)