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The decades of disruption: new social risks and the future of the welfare state

Economic stimulus Government expenditure Social inequality Welfare state United Kingdom

In the COVID-19 crisis, government financial assistance has been the decisive factor in protecting businesses and livelihoods, but it has fallen short. We can learn from the response to this crisis to create the stronger welfare settlement we will need to tackle new social risks and prevent inequality from growing.

The economic shock resulting from the pandemic follows a 'great risk shift' experienced by people in the UK over recent decades. It is clear that 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 introductory paper sets out the context for the IPPR's 'new social risks' programme and begins to establish the contours of a response which will be required in the years to come. Section 2 focuses on the five social deficits set out in the introduction, while section 3 sets out five big social, economic and political shifts that must guide the response.

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