Social innovation: worklessness, welfare and well-being

Michael Roy, Neil Anthony McHugh, Clementine Hill O'Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
331 Downloads (Pure)


The UK Government has recently implemented large-scale public-sector funding cuts and substantial welfare reform. Groups within civil society are being encouraged to fill gaps in service provision, and 'social innovation' has been championed as a means of addressing social exclusion, such as that caused by worklessness, a major impediment to citizens being able to access money, power and resources, which are key social determinants of health. The aim of this article is to make the case for innovative 'upstream' approaches to addressing health inequalities, and we discuss three prominent social innovations gaining traction: microcredit for enterprise; social enterprise in the form of Work Integration Social Enterprises (WISEs); and Self Reliant Groups (SRGs). We find that while certain social innovations may have the potential to address health inequalities, large-scale research programmes that will yield the quality and range of empirical evidence to demonstrate impact, and, in particular, an understanding of the causal pathways and mechanisms of action, simply do not yet exist.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-467
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Policy and Society
Issue number3
Early online date24 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


  • social innovation
  • self-reliance groups
  • microcredit
  • public health


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