The Return of the State

Restructuring Britain for the Common Good

Edited by Patrick Allen, Suzanne J. Konzelmann, Jan Toporowski

£12.99  |  $19.95
ISBN 9781788213295
£12.99  |  $19.95
ISBN 9781788213301
264 pages   |  216 x 138mm   |  29 April 2021


"A roadmap for reforming the British welfare state in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis ... useful and thought-provoking ... I found its arguments on the need for governments to address inequality and look beyond GDP growth alone to be very persuasive ... an important and timely book with lessons for those both inside and outside the United Kingdom." – LSE Review of Books

"After decades of assault by state-shrinking ideologues, a collision of crises has revealed how only the power of good government can save us. Covid, climate catastrophe and Brexit crashed in on a public realm stripped bare by a decade of extreme austerity. Here all the best writers and thinkers on the good society show recovery is possible, with a radical rethink of all the old errors. Read this and feel hope that things can change." – Polly Toynbee

"The British economy is no longer working for most people. This book brings together the best progressive thinkers, not to tell us what is wrong, but to explore the foundations of a new economy that works better for as many of us as possible. It’s essential reading for everyone that wants equity, democracy and dynamism baked into a very different twenty-first century economy." – Neal Lawson, Executive Director, Compass

"For forty years the global race to the bottom has been a political choice. I commend the authors of this important book for setting out an alternative politics of fuller, better and greener employment." – Frances O'Grady, General Secretary, TUC


Pushed by the Covid-19 crisis, the UK government has borrowed massively to save jobs, businesses and the economy from collapse, making a mockery of the austerity policies that it had championed for a decade. As a result, the role of the state is now in sharp focus. The contributors to this volume assess what that role should be and how it should be harnessed for the good of the British people in all four of its nations. Together they present policy proposals capable of generating a new social settlement and a long-term, equitable economic recovery post-pandemic. It offers both a vision of a future Britain and a roadmap to getting there.


1. Introduction
Patrick Allen

Part 1: Foundations
2. Rentier capitalism and the role of finance in the macroeconomy
Robert Skidelsky
3. Post-pandemic health and well-being: putting equality at the heart of recovery
Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson
4. A second internationalism of labour
Geoff Tily

Part 2: The Public Service Sectors
5. Affordable housing and a stronger economy
Josh Ryan-Collins
6. Post-Covid national health and care policies to ensure universal services
Allyson Pollock and Louisa Harding-Edgar
7. Reforming social care through a care-led recovery
Susan Himmelweit
8. The post-pandemic provision of education
Danny Dorling

Part 3: Reform of Corporate Governance, Industrial Strategy and Finance
9. An ownership revolution
Will Hutton
10. Industrial strategy for post-Covid Britain: a renewed public purpose for the state and business?
Suzanne J. Konzelmann and Marc Fovargue-Davies
11. Green investment, local economic development and pension provision
Craig Berry
12. When the invisible hand fails, the visible hand should step in! Urgent need for a UK National Investment Bank
Stephany Griffith-Jones

Part 4: Tackling Poverty and Inequality
13. Revive the commons!
Guy Standing
14. The people’s stake: inequality and "asset redistribution"
Stewart Lansley
15. Over-leveraged households need debt relief
Johnna Montgomerie
16. Reforming benefits: introducing a guaranteed income floor
Stewart Lansley

Part 5: A Progressive Recovery
17. To restructure the British state, the international financial system must be transformed
Ann Pettifor
18. Coronavirus and the national debt
Jan Toporowski and Robert Calvert Jump
19. Progressive tax reform
Jo Michell
20. A progressive recovery
Jan Toporowski

Author Information

Patrick Allen is chair and founder of the Progressive Economy Forum. He is also founder and senior partner at the law firm, Hodge Jones & Allen.

Suzanne J. Konzelmann is Reader in Management at Birkbeck, University of London. Her most recent book is Austerity (2019).

Jan Toporowski is Professor of Economics and Finance at SOAS, University of London.

Purchase Options