New research: Universal Credit and ‘in-work conditionality’ – a productive turn?

July 23, 2019     Leave a Comment

This pilot study aims to explore employer responses to proposed new requirements placed on working Universal Credit (UC) claimants to increase their pay through progressing and/or taking on additional hours of work (UC replaces Working Tax Credits). It is led by original WelCond team member Dr Katy Jones at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Whilst policy specifics are developing – trialling is underway – the DWP’s ‘Employer Guide to Universal Credit’ states that workers in receipt of UC may be expected to:

a)         increase their hours

b)         look for ways to progress in their current workplace

c)         search for additional work with a different employer (take on multiple jobs)

d)         take up alternative work elsewhere (move jobs).

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New blog: Disabled people’s experiences of the Employment and Support Allowance Work Related Activity Group

July 22, 2019     Leave a Comment

A new guest blog from Danny Taggart, Ellen Clifford, Jaimini Mehta and Ewen Speed discusses their research which points to fundamental problems with the welfare system.

They report on a collaborative research project was initiated between academics at the University of Essex and Inclusion London, a disabled people’s user-led organisation (DPULO). They found that conditionality and sanctions are ineffective in incentivising disabled people to engage in work-related activity. Instead they create a range of punitive and often perverse incentives that can be detrimental to health. Read the blog

Disabled people’s experiences of the Employment and Support Allowance Work Related Activity Group

July 22, 2019     Leave a Comment

Danny Taggart, Ellen Clifford, Jaimini Mehta and Ewen Speed report on their research which points to fundamental issues with the welfare system

In 2015, a collaborative research project was initiated between academics at the University of Essex and Inclusion London, a disabled people’s user-led organisation (DPULO). The research investigated how disabled people in the ESA WRAG experienced the welfare system as claimants, with particular attention to their experiences of processes of conditionality and sanctioning. Our study was designed, supervised, analysed and disseminated jointly by a disabled activist and policy director at the DPULO and a trainee clinical psychologist working with a clinical psychology academic supervisor. It was a qualitative study and 15 ESA WRAG claimants were interviewed. Read More

Our research cited in UN report

June 27, 2019     Leave a Comment

The WelCond project is delighted to be cited in the final report of UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston being presented in Geneva today (27 June). Professor Alston’s hard hitting report on extreme poverty in the UK strongly criticises the welfare benefits system and concludes: ‘Much of the glue that has held British society together since the Second World War has been deliberately removed and replaced with a harsh and uncaring ethos.’

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The state of stasis in Irish welfare conditionality

June 25, 2019     Leave a Comment

Tom Boland & Ray Griffin from Waterford Institute of Technology reflect on the difficulties of achieving policy change

Stasis is not the same as inertia; it is the state where opposing forces cancel each other out, like a car skidding on ice; the wheels spin but the car doesn’t move.

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New Zealand experts call for fundamental change to welfare system

June 24, 2019     Leave a Comment

New Zealand’s current welfare system is no longer fit for purpose and needs fundamental change, according to the government appointed Welfare Expert Advisory Group.

The group’s report says the current social security system ‘was set up in a different time and no longer meets the needs of those it was designed to support’. Successive governments have implemented changes to the system with intended and unintended consequences. Read More

WelCond research cited in major newspapers

June 20, 2019     Leave a Comment

Our project findings on the negative effects of benefit sanctions were cited in two major newspapers recently.

In The Guardian, Social Policy Editor Patrick Butler reported on the Department for Work & Pensions’ decision to stop imposing three-year benefit sanctions by the end of the year. Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd said she agreed with the Work & Pensions Select Committee (to which WelCond also gave evidence) that three-year sanctions are ‘unnecessarily long’. She also said three-year sanctions ‘are counter-productive and ultimately undermine our goal of supporting people into work’. Patrick Butler’s article cited the WelCond finding that ‘sanctions were ineffective at getting jobless people into work and were more likely to reduce those affected to poverty, ill-health or even survival crime’.

Meanwhile, in the New York Times columnist Courtney E Martin raised the question: ‘Does anyone deserve to be poor?’ Writing her series on enduring economic inequality in the United States, Ms Martin considers the advantages of a guaranteed income. She moves on to cite WelCond’s finding that placing conditions on receipt of benefits did not improve the lives of those it was intended to serve, did not increase motivation to work and pushed people further into poverty and negative consequences.

Researchers say benefits sanctions should not be imposed on veterans

June 18, 2019     Leave a Comment

A new study linked to WelCond has revealed that ex-Service personnel with physical and mental health problems are struggling to navigate a ‘baffling’ benefits system and should not incur sanctions.

Researchers from the University of Salford and the University of York conducted 120 interviews with ex-Service personnel and found the need for greater understanding of veterans’ complex needs and suggests that sanctions are not the answer.

Participants in the study were found to have insecure employment, with several struggling with debts and rent arrears, and some resorting to foodbanks or ‘going through the bins’. Others live with embarrassment, shame and resentment at a system they call unfair and bewildering. Read More

A ‘kinder’ welfare policy for New Zealand?

March 27, 2019     Leave a Comment

Dr Claire Gray from Canterbury University, New Zealand,  spent a month as a visiting fellow at our University of York base. Here she reflects on her research and the New Zealand welfare system

The Early Career Research Fellowship has given me the opportunity to contextualise welfare provision in New Zealand within international debates on the theory and practice of welfare conditionality. There are many similarities between welfare provision in New Zealand and other anglophone nations. In this post I outline some recent policy that has established welfare conditionality in New Zealand, while also explaining my own theoretical approach to welfare research.

Welfare conditionality began to emerge as a feature of social security in New Zealand from the 1980s onwards. It was under the Fifth National Government (2008-2017), however, that conditionality became a significant aspect of New Zealand’s welfare system. Shortly after coming to power, then Prime Minister John Key heralded his Government’s planned welfare policy changes with the statement that these would “give [beneficiaries] a kick in the pants when they are not taking responsibility for themselves, their family, and other taxpayers”. This was followed by the passing of the Social Security (New Work Tests, Incentives and Obligations) Amendment Act (2010) imposing a number of conditions upon the receipt of welfare. Read More

Presentations from our international networking seminar

March 18, 2019     Leave a Comment

We welcomed 35 delegates from the UK and overseas to our first international seminar in York from 31 January to 2 February 2019. Here is a selection of presentations from the event.

Kate Andersen, University of York, UK

Dr Tom Boland and Dr Ray Griffin, Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland

Dr Philip Finn, Maynooth University, Ireland

Dr Claire Gray, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Professor Matthew Gray, Australian National University, Australia

Dr Louise Humpage, Auckland University, New Zealand

Professor Willem Maas, York University, Canada

Victoria McLauchlan, Treasury, Isle of Man Government

 

ESRCAn ESRC large grant
University of Glasgow Heriot Watt University University of Salford Manchester Sheffield Hallam University University of Sheffield University of York