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Post-Pandemic Mobilisation and Management of Social Welfare Funds: Implications for Equity and Citizenship 
Sruthi Herbert (University of Edinburgh)
Deval Desai (University of Edinburgh)
Politics and political economy
Thursday 7 July, 11:50-12:30 (UTC+1)

Short Abstract:

We discuss the fiscal and administrative practices that emerged in public welfare spending after the COVID-19 pandemic through the lens of equity and citizenship. Our examination from India finds that social welfare funds running into billions of pounds subsidised state expenditure.

Long Abstract

This workshop explores the fiscal and administrative practices that emerged post-pandemic to rapidly mobilise funds for pandemic relief, and its implications for equity and citizenship. Our case-study of unspent social welfare funds in special-purpose vehicles (SPVs) in India guides this discussion.

By "unspent", we refer to instances where a significant proportion of these funds remains both uncaptured by other interests, and unspent during a discrete timeframe for the purpose for which they are earmarked. By "special purpose", we mean the monies are held in some SPV rather than simply being absorbed into ordinary administrative budget lines. And by "social", we mean that the funds are intended for a specific social purpose, in particular to remedy social vulnerabilities, harms, or dislocations.

In India, billions of pounds lie unspent in special-purpose social welfare boards for the Building and Other Construction Workers (BOCWs).The accumulation of these funds is often understood as a technical phenomenon to be remedied. Post-pandemic, approximately 310 billion of the INR 1.7 trillion mobilised by the central government towards pandemic relief were reallocated from the BOCW boards.

The roundtable will discuss fiscal and administrative practices of social welfare funds. We will discuss the empirical studies; patterns of management and use of welfare funds; analytical relationships between unspent funds, state administration, and accountability institutions; and theoretical implications for the politics of the state, equity and citizenship.

A brief of the case studies will be circulated prior to the roundtable. Each speaker will have 5 minutes with the remaining time for discussions.

Accepted contributions: