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Welfare conditionality and Armed Forces Service Leavers: some first wave findings

April 19, 2018     Leave a Comment

Katy Jones and Lisa Scullion give some early findings from this exciting new project

The Welfare Conditionality project has demonstrated the varied experiences of different groups in an increasingly conditional welfare system. In this blogpost we share some interim findings from a new, linked project:  Sanctions, Support and Service Leavers, in which we explore the experiences of former Service personnel in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit (UC), as they attempt to navigate the transition from military to civilian life. Read More

Bedroom tax, benefit cuts and sanctions – the fear factor and the cumulative effects

April 13, 2018     Leave a Comment

Jeanette Smith (not her real name) lives in the south of England. In this first of a two-part guest blog post she discusses the pincer effect of different conditions in the benefit system – and the mental and physical burden on benefit recipients

I am currently in receipt of ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) and I am due to have a home visit by a ‘Healthcare Professional’ to assess my claim. I requested this due to the fact that I do not feel able to travel to the Assessment Centre in another town. This process took over a month, as they said they had not received the letter from my doctor. I had to keep making new appointments to allow time for this. Read More

Universal Credit and the legacy of JSA sanctions

March 19, 2018     Leave a Comment

Researcher Evan Williams shows how the rise of sanctioning in UK social security has transferred to the new system

Much of the recent media, think tank and parliamentary debate surrounding the controversial rollout of Universal Credit (UC) has focused on the harmful six week wait for UC claimants to receive support. One core feature of UC that has been largely overlooked in this discussion, however, is the disciplinary role of sanctions and the various adverse impacts that they have on individuals. This short piece provides some context to the current UC sanctions regime by focusing on sanctioning policy for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimants – one of the six existing means-tested benefits that UC replaces – under the previous Coalition Government (2010-2015). Read More

‘No matter which way you turn they have actually got you’: Universal Credit, conditionality and discretion

February 20, 2018     Leave a Comment

Specialist welfare rights advice practitioner and trainer Sarah Batty outlines her 2017 research into the impact of welfare reforms on social tenants in the North East

I am particularly interested in the interaction between increasing conditionality and increasing discretion within the social security system. One aspect of this is the discretionary powers of Jobcentre work coaches who administer the ‘personalised conditionality’ within the new Universal Credit (UC).  I wanted to explore the perspectives of claimants, and among the people who talked to me were two women with health conditions who had also experienced benefit sanctions. Their stories illuminate the emerging tension between discretionary conditionality and support for vulnerable people. Read More

Health notes: the pressures to reduce life’s complexities to a sheet of paper

November 13, 2017     Leave a Comment

Dr Jens Foell is a GP and teaches at Imperial College London. Here he reflects on encounters with patients needing Personal Independence Payment reports

‘I need a report stating exactly what’s wrong with me,’ is her opening statement. It is the beginning of my afternoon surgery and I have seen her plenty of times, but never had the opportunity for a thorough and meaningful encounter. I am aware of the long back story including various mental health diagnoses and encounters with all sorts of state organisations. I am also aware of the various interlinked conditions, ranging from obesity to high blood pressure to interactions between the side-effects of antipsychotic medication, their effects on weight and the risk of developing diabetes. And the aching knees. And the poor sleep. And the precarious financial situation.

I could press a special button and the printer would deliver a piece of paper with the main disease codes including a fairly recent statement about her frailty. But she is only 45! The code has been applied by the invisible hand on the basis of her unscheduled care encounters. Read More

Why conditionality isn’t working

October 23, 2017     Leave a Comment

Researcher Ruth Patrick examines the flawed assumptions behind policies intended to incentivise benefit recipients to take up paid work – and calls for a rethink

In a brief radio appearance recently, I was involved in a discussion about the role of welfare conditionality in today’s welfare state. One of the participants defended conditionality’s role, citing what he described as a wealth of evidence that suggests that conditionality does work in supporting transitions from ‘welfare’ into ‘work’. I responded emphasising the punitive edge that conditionality brings to encounters at the Job Centre or in employment ‘support’ provision, and how this can harm relationships between claimants and their advisers. But that was all I had time to say.

Read More

What it’s like to transition on to Universal Credit

October 9, 2017     Leave a Comment

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The government has rejected calls for the rollout of the one-stop benefit to be paused.
via shutterstock.com

WelCond team members Peter Dwyer, University of York and Sharon Wright, University of Glasgow

Originally designed with the intention of “making work pay” by smoothing out transitions between paid work and welfare, Universal Credit is now being widely criticised for failing to deliver on its promises. Despite calls by a group of Conservative MPs for the next phase of the welfare benefit’s rollout to be paused, in early October the work and pensions secretary David Gauke said it would go ahead as planned. Read More

Demonising disabled people: public behaviour and attitudes during welfare reforms

July 12, 2017     Leave a Comment

In this guest opinion, independent researcher Mo Stewart identifies the ease with which public behaviour can be manipulated and changed by government when aided by the press

It is the welfare service users’ behaviour that government seeks to change with government policy when linked to harsh sanctions.  But, in reality, public opinion and behaviour has also changed when influenced by political rhetoric. Read More

The Relative Poverty project

July 6, 2017     Leave a Comment

In this guest blog, photojournalist Les Monaghan charts the development of his show exploring the realities of life for families in his locality

Almost a year ago, I became agitated by an online news article. Over a million people in the UK were living in destitution. Other people too were agitated by this same article. Spending an hour or so with the online trolls, and their wearied opponents, in the Comment is Free section wasn’t healthy. But it made me realise that no matter how earnest, how scrupulously researched a charity’s report, or campaigning journalist’s article, there are swathes of the UK that refuse to believe ‘news’ they don’t agree with. Read More

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