This article considers the evolution of UK labour market policy during the last 30 years. It does this through the lens of the ‘social model’. The social model encompasses the employment relations system, the social welfare system, and the education and training system. It was changed dramatically by the Thatcher and Major governments. The succeeding Labour and Coalition governments largely embraced this new model and, in some ways, increased the pace of change. The consequences for labour market performance—employment, unemployment, productivity, and inequality—are explored.

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