Over recent years, our understanding of risk and uncertainty has expanded to include a broader interpretation of human value. While both social and societal risk are concerned with impacts on human value, there is also a subtle difference, with the former emphasising the need for social protection and the latter emphasising the public nature of those risks. Social risks are generally linked with experience of unemployment, increased health inequalities, financial instability, reduced educational attainment, loneliness and a breakdown of support networks, both formal and informal.
Increasingly, these social risks are being exacerbated by austerity measures. As the UK public sector budget cuts and welfare reform transfer responsibility for dealing with risk away from UK Central Government, devolved administrations and local governments play an important role in managing and redistributing social risk. Reduced provision of services such as educational support, youth services, leisure and social care, coupled with the welfare reform agenda, are likely to induce and deepen poverty for many vulnerable groups and exacerbate both social and societal risks which these groups appear insufficiently equipped to handle. This study offers insight into the cumulative impact of social and societal risk transfer on vulnerable groups in Scotland. It focuses specifically on older people, lone parents and those experiencing in-work poverty within an area of North Lanarkshire in Scotland.