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Politics and International Relations (PIR): People


Hayley Bennett

Hayley Bennett
Dr Hayley Bennett
Research Fellow, Academy of Government
4f1, 4.02 18 Buccleuch Place Edinburgh UK EH8 9LN
+44 (0)131 6511325
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

Dr Hayley Bennett is an expert on two areas: First, British labour market programmes, social security, and anti-poverty policies. Second, public administration (especially welfare markets), policy-making, third sector, and public service reform. By employing a wide range of qualitative methods her research focuses on how various levels of government, alongside private and third sector organisations, are involved in social security, economic development, and anti-poverty policies in different localities across the UK.

Her work demonstrates an interdisciplinary approach across social policy, organisation studies, geography, and public policy. She also has expertise designing and delivering research and knowledge exchange collaborations with government, third sector organisations, and numerous local authorities. Including developing innovative collaborative research approaches.

Hayley has been a full-time Research Fellow at Edinburgh University since 2013 and joined Politics and IR in January 2015 as a Research Fellow within the What Works Scotland (WWS) research centre.  WWS is a large, intensive research and knowledge exchange project using collaborative approaches to explore public service reform. In this project Hayley examines public service reform and the Scottish approach to policy making. She also leads a series of Collaborative Action Research inquiries with practitioners and policy makers addressing 'wicked issues,' a research project exploring state-third sector relations, and co-leads the Collaborative Action Research workstream. 

Prior to WWS, Hayley was a Research Fellow in Social Policy 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.

Hayley also has over 5 years’ experience of working in officer and senior positions in third and public sector organisations across the UK.

Research activities (a selection)

  • Research Fellow (Jan 2015- Dec 2017) What Works Scotland (Funded by ESRC and Scottish Government)
  • Research Fellow (May 2013-Jan 2015) 'Combating Poverty in Europe'- (Funded by EU FP7)
  • Co-Investigator (2015) Labour market activation policies in times of austerity (UK case study) for the European Trade Union Institute 
  • 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)

"The marketisation of UK employment services. The impact on a third sector organisation"  

- Inclusive of Visiting Fellowship, Trinity College Dublin in the Non-Profit Management Group, TCD Business School

  • 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)


Bennett, H. (2017) Re-examining British Welfare-to-Work Contracting using a Transaction Cost PerspectiveJournal 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.

Bennett, H. (2015) 'Permanently Changing? Operationalising Research into Organisational Change in the Third Sector' North East Third Sector Research Group Annual Digest.

Book Review: M.Ramesh, Eduardo Araral Jr and Xun Wu (2010) Reasserting the Public in Public Services. New Public Management reforms” in Work, Employment and Society Volume 26 Number 6, December 2012

Research reports

Bennett, H (2017) Undertaking Collaborative Action Research; Fife programme. Research report, WWS. 

Bennett, H. (2014) Active Inclusion of Deprived Groups in Glasgow (UK report) Research report, COPE.

Clegg, D., and Bennett, H.(2014) Multilevel “Arenas” for Fighting Poverty and Social Exclusion. (UK report) Research report, COPE.

Bennett, H., and Clegg, D. (2013) The local arena for combating poverty. (Glasgow, UK report). Research report, COPE.

Conferences papers (a selection)

Bennett, H. (2017) “Beyond the ‘Shadow State’? Exploring civil society in response to welfare state retrenchment in Scotland”, Institute of British Geographers and Royal Geographical Society Annual International conference, London 27th Aug-1st Sept

Bennett, H. (2017) “Invisible rescaling of the British Welfare State? Street-level collaborations to mitigate benefit sanctioning in Scotland”, Social Policy Association Annual Conference, Durham 10-12th July

Bennett, H. (2016) The invisible rescaling of the British welfare state? The case of a “Local Welfare System” in Scotland.  Paper presentation at the Regional Studies Winter Conference, 24-25 November. London 

Bennett, H. and Heins, E. (2016) Earn or Learn? Labour market policies for young people in the UK since the crisis. Presented (by Elke Heins) at ESPAnet 2016, 1-3rd Sept, Erasmus University, Rotterdam 

Bennett, H. (2015) "Blessed are the poor? Church discourse and practice in relation to welfare policies since 2010"Social Policy Association Annual Conference, Ulster University. Paper presentation and panel convenor (Panel: Serving two masters? Faith and well-being in social policy).

Bennett, H. (2012) “Pricing out third sector organisations in the UK welfare-to-work market.”  Social Policy Association Annual Conference, York University. Paper presentation and panel convenor (Panel: Welfare reform and the Freud report).

Bennett, H. (2012) “The third sector in the UK welfare-to-work market: ideas of social enterprise and national identity.” University College Cork: Third Sector Management Group

Bennett, H. (2011) “The UK welfare-to-work market 2000-2011- the demise of the third sector?” University of Edinburgh: Work, Economy and Welfare Research Group. 

Bennett, H. (2011) “Exploring social and market legitimacy in the UK welfare-to-work industry: A case study of a third sector provider.” 7th International Critical Management Studies Conference, Naples University. 

Recent knowledge exchange activities

  • Member of the Scottish Parliament's Social Security Committee Expert Panel (2017-)
  • Speaker at various Scottish Government events, including Evidence and Policy Fortnight, Reducing stigma in public services,
  • Member of Poverty Alliance's national steering group for 'Challenge Poverty Week' (2017) 
  • Initiated and managed the 'Let's discuss poverty' Blog for the Poverty Alliance's Challenge Poverty Week 2014 and 2015, 2017.
  • Co-produced an intensive Collaborative Action Research programme with Fife CPP, involving 87 practitioners across multiple agencies (as part of WWS project) (2015-2017). 

Please get in touch if you would like to collaborate with Hayley on any events or research projects.


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