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Dr Michael Orton

Research interests

Michael's work forms part of the IER theme of Work, Welfare and Public Policy with particular current focus on social security/welfare benefits, from a perspective of redressing poverty and socio-economic insecurity and using methodologies that are solutions focused, participatory and consensus building.

Other research areas have included active labour market policy, debt, taxation/fiscal welfare, public attitudes to economic inequality and Sen's Capabilities Approach.

Academic profile

Michael joined IER in 2002, having spent the previous year as a Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology, also at Warwick. Prior to that he worked for over 15 years in the voluntary sector and local government. This included working for Citizens Advice Bureau (from being a volunteer through to Bureau Manager), an anti-poverty policy role in a local authority Finance Department, and being an Investigator for the Local Government Ombudsman - with the latter including a year working for the New South Wales Ombudsman, Sydney.

Michael's work has been published widely in journal articles, research reports and book chapters. He has appeared as an expert witness before a Parliamentary Committee Inquiry, and his work has featured in Parliamentary Questions and attracted a variety of media coverage.

Current/recent projects

  • A Civil Society 'White Paper' on social security - led by people with lived experience (Trust for London)
  • The future of social security: underpinning principles (Trust for London)
  • Solving poverty: reforming social security/welfare benefits (Jospeh Rowntree Foundation & Trust for London)
  • Identifying how to put the 'security' back into social security (UK Social Policy Association)
  • A theory of practice and change for a world without poverty (Webb Memorial Trust)

Selected publications

  • Batty, S. and Orton, M. (forthcoming) ‘An agenda for fixing the social security/welfare benefits system’ Journal of Poverty and Social Justice.
  • Orton, M. (2017) ‘Policy steps towards a better social future’ in R. Atkinson, L. McKenzie and S. Winlow (eds.) Building Better Societies: Promoting Social Justice in a World Falling Apart pp155-164 Bristol: Policy Press.
  • Orton, M. (2016) Secure & Free: 5+ solutions to socio-economic insecurity London: Compass.
  • Atfield, G., Lindley, R. and Orton, M. (2016) Living with debt after advice. A longitudinal study of people on low incomes York: Friends Provident Foundation. (Summary available here.)
  • Orton, M. (2015) Something's not right: insecurity and an anxious nation London: Compass.
  • Orton, M. (2014) 'Reviewing the evidence on insecurity in Britain' Poverty 148,19.
  • Green, A. and Orton, M. (2012) 'Policy innovation in a fragmented and complex multi-level governance context: worklessness and the City Strategy in Britain', Regional Studies, 46 (2), 153-164.
  • Orton, M. (2011)* 'Flourishing lives: the capabilities approach as a framework for new thinking about employment, work and welfare in the 21st century' Work, Employment And Society 25 (2), 352-360.
  • Orton, M. (2010) The long-term impact of debt advice on low income households - The Year 3 Report, Coventry: Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick.
  • Rowlingson, K., Orton, M. and Taylor, E. (2010) 'Do we still care about inequality?' in British social attitudes the 27th Report: exploring Labour's legacy, 1 - 28, Editors: Park, A., Curtice, J., Clery, E. and Bryson, C., London: Sage Publications.
  • Bonvin, J. -M. and Orton, M. (Guest Editors) (2009) 'Activation policies and organisational innovation: the added value of the capability approach' International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 29 (11-12), 565 - 574.
  • Orton, M. and Rowlingson, K. (2007) 'A problem of riches: towards a new social policy research agenda on the distribution of economic resources', Journal Of Social Policy, 36 (1), 59 - 77.
  • Davies, R., Orton, M. and Bosworth, D. (2007) 'Local taxation and the relationship between incomes and property values', Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 25 (5), 756 - 772.
  • Orton, M. (2006) 'Wealth, citizenship and responsibility: the views of better off citizens in the UK', Citizenship Studies, 10 (2), 251 - 265.
  • Orton, M. (2006) 'How to help people pay local tax: abolish council tax benefit?', Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, 14 (1), 19 - 25.

*Shortlisted for Sage Prize for Innovation and Excellence

All publications

All conference presentations

External activities

In a personal capacity, Michael is a member of the Oxfam UK Poverty Programme Advisory Group and contact point for an informal West Midlands grassroots network on alternatives to austerity called #ProWhat?







Senior Research Fellow

Institute for Employment Research
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL

@MichaelOrton9 (Twitter - in a personal capacity)