School of Social and Political Science

Dr Hayley Bennett

Job Title

Lecturer in Social Policy

Hayley Bennett photo

Room number

3.27 CMB

Building (Address)

15a George Square,

City (Address)


Country (Address)


Post code (Address)



My research examines inequality and poverty in the UK. I study the design and delivery of welfare services, social security, labour market programmes, and anti-poverty initiatives for the working-age population. I have an interest in place-based approaches and regional inequalities. I predominately use qualitative methodologies and specialise in participatory and collaborative research approaches. 

I am the co-convener of the Social Policy Association's  'Employment and Social Security' Policy Group with Elke Heins. Twitter: @SpaEmploySocSec 


  • 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)


  • Course organiser & lecturer: Qualitative Research: Principles and Practicalities for Social Policy (UG) 
  • Teaching contributions: Policy in Action (PG), Politics of the Welfare State (UG), Labour Market Policy in Europe (UG), Social Inequality and the Life Course (UG).
  • Member of the Research Training Centre 
  • Personal Tutor: MSc Public Policy, and Government, Policy and Society MA(Hons)

Publications (selected)

(see Edinburgh Research Explorer for a detailed list)

Bennett, H., Escobar O, Hill O’Connor C, Plotnikova E, Steiner A. (2021) Participation Requests: A Democratic Innovation to Unlock the Door of Public Services? Administration & Society. (Early online view) 

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.


Research interests

Research interests

Research projects 

  • '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

Unemployment and poverty (UK), low-income work, 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 in welfare services).

Knowledge Exchange and Impact

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

  • IAA Poverty Alliance (2021-2022) 
  • 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'.

Works within

Staff Hours and Guidance

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