Countering unemployment in the United Kingdom

This report charts the evolution of measures to combat unemployment in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland over the three decades 1970–2000.

A very wide range of government policies have an impact on employment and unemployment: the macro-economic policies of demand management; exchange rate management; trade policies; education policies, which affect the supply of skilled labour; decisions on the age of retirement; etc. But this report, while noting developments of this kind, will largely deal with policies that are more specifically concerned with manpower issues, coordinated in the United Kingdom, as in many other countries, by the Department of Employment or its agencies.

The intention is to present a case study of how these manpower policies evolve and interact with each other during changes in the general economic environment – in particular in response to economic shocks. The report therefore attempts to depict a broad narrative, focusing on the thinking that caused policymakers to make the decisions that they did at the time.