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University of Bath

Pensions Reform in the UK

A research project to develop an in-depth understanding of the factors which affected the reform of the UK pensions system.

Pensions graphic
The main aim of this study to develop an in-depth understanding of the factors which affected reform of the UK pensions system.

The aim of this project is to explain why the UK pensions system, unlike other areas of public policy, was successfully and sustainably reformed in the UK through interviewing approximately 20-30 policymakers and academics central to reforming the pensions system. The project will focus particularly on the Turner commission reforms 2002-2012.

The research will answer the following key research questions:

  • How did the inherited institutional structure of the UK welfare state shape the options available to policymakers and other policy actors?
  • How did the ambitions and strategic projects of political elites and key policy stakeholders align with (respond to and shape) public attitudes and preferences?
  • What was the interplay between the interests of political elites and key stakeholder and the sequencing of events that shaped and enabled the possibility for reform?
  • How and why did pensions reform succeed where other reforms (notably to social care funding) failed?
  • How did the reforms in turn reshape the institutional framework of social security for older people: was it incremental or radical reform to the UK’s liberal welfare state? And what do the reforms tell us about power in the UK welfare state – crucially, why is pensions policy protected while working age welfare state benefits are cut after 2010?

The main aim of this study to develop an in-depth understanding of the factors which affected reform of the UK pensions system and to write up findings in the form of academic articles which contribute to our understanding of not only pensions reform but wider policymaking processes.

In addition, some element of a number of the interviews will be videoed and will contribute to an archive being developed by colleagues at the University of the West of England (UWE) and NEST Insight where key documents relating to the pensions reform will be stored. The project therefore has a broader remit of ensuring that historical knowledge about this key area of policy reform is maintained.

Project team

Research partner

Nest Insight