Whilst the comparative political economy literature has regarded the UK as among the least dualised countries when it comes to non-standard employment, thanks to its flexible labour market and predominantly means-tested system of social pro-tection, scholars in the precariousness literature have highlighted the increased pre-carity and insecurity of many non-standard workers, highlighting the extreme con-ditionality and punitive policies typical of the UK welfare system as an important contributory factor. This paper aims to bridge the gap between these literatures. It analyses the experience of social protection of a specific category of non-standard workers, namely temporary agency workers, in accessing both active and passive unemployment policies. It finds how welfare reforms introduced in the past two decades in association with a general welfare discourse centred on the concepts of deservingness and dependency have created important barriers in accessing un-employment protection, not just based on institutional features but also on social perceptions.
Keywords: Dualisation, austerity, unemployment policies, UK