Ashwin Kumar appointed as new Professor of Social Policy

Monday 11 February 2019

Ashwin Kumar, currently Chief Economist at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), is joining Manchester Met in May 2019 as its new Professor of Social Policy. Ashwin will be based in the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit, part of the Sociology Department.

Ashwin is a respected commentator on social policy and appears regularly on TV and in print discussing productivity, poverty, working conditions for people on low wages, housing and household incomes. Previously he has been a Senior Civil Servant at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Rail Director of the consumer watchdog Passenger Focus and a senior advisor to Gordon Brown. He has also been a board member of the National Housing Federation, the homelessness charity St Mungo’s and the housing association New Charter. 

At JRF, he set up the organisation’s first in-house analytical function and delivered UK Poverty 2017, a new, state-of-the-nation analysis of trends in poverty and its causes. At the DWP, he developed Pensim2, the government’s world-leading dynamic microsimulation model to predict pensioner incomes over the next 50 years and helped design the State Second Pension – the 2002 reform of the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS).  He wrote The Changing Welfare State: Pensioner Incomes in 1999/2000, one of a set of reports by the department at the start of the 1997 to 2010 administration setting out the context for welfare reform.  He also helped ministers deliver the Local Housing Allowance – a major reform of Housing Benefit in the private rented sector – through parliament in 2007.

As Projects Director in the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown he assisted Gordon Brown in his role as Chair of the World Economic Forum’s new Global Issues Group.  Consisting of the heads of the global multinational organisations (International Monetary Fund, World Bank, International Labour Organisation, World Health Organisation, World Food Programme, etc., and the continental development banks), it was charged with identifying the major challenges facing the world over the following two decades.

He said: “I’m really looking forward to being in a place that has a commitment to methodological rigour as a core part of its purpose, but which also wants to get out into the wider world and have a real influence, make change happen in national and city region governments. I think we have the opportunity to do work of the highest quality, but if we do the right work that people pay attention to, we can have real impact.”

Professor Chris Fox, Director of the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU) said:

“We have been building our portfolio of work on social policy for several years, including UK and pan-European projects on welfare reform, social investment and the personalisation of public services. Ashwin has exciting plans for new projects and collaborations on key social policy challenges including in work poverty and benefits and pension reform. He will take our social policy work to the next level.”

Professor Sharon Handley, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Arts and Humanities said:

“I am delighted that Ashwin Kumar is joining Manchester Metropolitan University.  His external profile and expertise will be a game-changer in our social policy work, supporting the University in raising the profile of the excellent work we do, and building our capacity to develop simulation modelling around a range of societal challenges. This is an important appointment.”


For more information please contact Chris Fox, Director of the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit:

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