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The Declining Salience of 'Saving' in British Politics

Berry, CP (2017) The Declining Salience of 'Saving' in British Politics. UNSPECIFIED. Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI).

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Abstract

In this Brief, the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) considers how the salience of ‘saving’ in British political discourse has evolved in recent years. It does so by examining how savers and the saving process have been discussed in the election manifestos of the Conservative Party and the Labour Party since 2005, up to the most recent election in June 2017. The material significance of private saving by individuals has risen in the context of welfare retrenchment, but discourses around saving also encompass moral imperatives. The notion of ‘asset-based welfare’ has been used by political economists to capture both dimensions. It suggests that accumulating wealth can have a more positive welfare function than traditional welfare provision – but also that individuals, as (potential) asset-holders, are therefore primarily responsible for their own welfare. However, since the financial crisis, the macro-economic significance of private saving appears to have risen – although this change now appears to have been superseded by a more negative treatment of the saving concept in British political discourse, which may foretell more profound changes in British economic statecraft ahead.

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