Within and between nations, spatial inequalities in relation to health, labour markets and employment shape the barriers faced by those trapped on disability benefits, and thus create challenges for public policy. To provide context for such analyses and policy discussions, this article presents evidence on levels of poverty, welfare support and inequality across Europe. It compares and contrasts especially the position and support for those out of or at the margins of the labour market under different welfare states to reveal the significant differences between the UK on the one hand and the Nordic and Benelux countries on the other hand. Applying insights from theories and practices of endogenous growth, universalism and inclusion, it is demonstrated that lessons are to be learnt from the better economic and social performances of the more inclusive and coherent nations of northern Europe. In particular, it is argued that the very high levels of poverty and inequality inherent in the neo-liberal policies of the UK cannot generate the conditions for simultaneously reducing public sector deficits and stimulating demand so that worklessness and exclusion inevitably will continue. The article concludes that an alternative social democratic paradigm is required based on solidarity, equity and fiscal responsibility to address this self-defeating feedback.
- Economic performance
- Social security