Work and Welfare

Work and welfare

The changing face of the UK labour market


This chapter explores Britain’s attitudes to work and welfare in 2017 and whether they reflect the changing nature of the UK labour market which can be attributed to economic and industrial change.

Despite ongoing labour market change, the British public continues to perceive there to be a dignity in work, with intrinsic value placed upon employment that goes beyond simple monetary compensation.

We also consider expectations upon employers and the state in supporting people on low incomes, a subject which may be of increasing relevance if the threat of automation and labour market polarisation is realised.

Despite the decline of ‘jobs for life’, people still expect employers to help them grow and develop and that employers should pay wages that cover the cost of living. However, they also know that this is often not the case, and where this is true they expect the government to intervene to support people on low wages.

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A majority of the public believe employers should be responsible for paying wages that cover the cost of living. A majority also support a national minimum wage increase and wage top-ups for low-earning single parents and working couples without children.


Views of employers’ and the government’s responsibilities regarding wages


Support for government wage top-ups for low-earning...



Authors: Nancy Kelley, Deputy Chief-Executive, The National Centre for Social Research; Professor Christopher Warhurst, Director, Institute for Employment Research. University of Warwick; Robbie Wishart, Senior Researcher (Analyst), The National Centre for Social Research



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