My background originally was as a Senior Planner working on urban regeneration in local government for nearly 17 years. The last 10 years was in Sheffield City Council under David Blunkett, the Leader of the Council. It was an interesting time to be in a Labour controlled local council which was taking the lead on the campaign against rate capping and austerity imposed by the Thatcher Government. I moved from academia to take up a Senior Lecturer post at Huddersfield University and then Middlesex University as a Principal Researcher working on employment skills and welfare policy.
Soon after I arrived at Huddersfield, I was contacted by Martin Jones (now at Staffs) in connection with some research I was undertaking on the Danish welfare reforms and labour market policies in the early 1990s. I am interested in the concept of the inclusive labour market, and the Danish model offers some interesting and innovative examples especially given the lead role trade unions play within welfare and labour market policy. This work has spawned a long term comparative research work on the UK and Denmark.
My recent research focus on devolution and employment inequalities stems from work I originally undertook at Middlesex University (2005-2007) on Devolution Regional Governance and Deprived Areas as part of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) Transforming the Prospect of Places Programme, and for the European Commission on the Quality of Work and Life in a Changing Europe (2006-2009). In 2014, when Martin arrived in Sheffield, he contacted me about developing joint work that could dovetail with his ESRC WISERD project. We worked for the last three years on analysing the impact of austerity on devolution and welfare reform in Sheffield (2016) and Greater Manchester (2017).