Blog

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

Welfare conditionality and Armed Forces Service leavers: addressing a knowledge gap

June 26, 2017     Leave a Comment

Lisa Scullion reports on a groundbreaking research project linked to our own Welfare Conditionality Project

Each year about 17,000 men and women leave the British Armed Forces and enter civilian life. There is a range of support available for Armed Forces Service leavers, including the Career Transition Partnership (CTP), the Ministry of Defence (MoD) official transition service, which provides advice and guidance, vocational training, and a range of employer brokerage activities.

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Can we still talk about ‘social citizenship’? Clarifying the effects of welfare conditionality

June 12, 2017     Leave a Comment

Daniel Edmiston from the University of Leeds suggests that greater attention to the constitutive elements of citizenship can help clarify the significance of welfare conditionality and its bearing on social rights.

Social policy analysis routinely suggests that welfare reform is damaging the social rights of vulnerable groups. But what does this actually mean? Recognising (and overcoming) the conceptual vagueness of social citizenship might help provide some clarity. Read More

Remarkable timing for our Brexit and EU migration debate

April 4, 2017     Leave a Comment

Welfare Conditionality Project impact officer Janis Bright reports on last week’s joint event with the EU Rights Project, titled ‘Brexit: what welfare, what rights for EU migrants in Britain?’

The date – 29 March – was certainly memorable. On the same day that Prime Minister Theresa May initiated Britain’s exit from the EU, our event in York debated the welfare and rights of those EU citizens already here in the UK. It was clear that many participants in our event were concerned with the treatment of EU migrants under the current rules and practice: so what would the future hold? Read More

Welfare conditionality in Ireland: evidence from longitudinal interviews

February 21, 2017     Leave a Comment

Tom Boland and Ray Griffin from Waterford Institute of Technology have conducted interviews before, during and after the roll-out of activation policies in Ireland. Their study reveals how policy works out in practice, beyond what is measurable statistically.

Our 2012 tranche of interviews confirmed international research on unemployment as a negative experience, leading to financial troubles, social isolation and challenges to mental well-being. Strong work-orientations and extensive job-search activity were also in evidence. Minor elements of suspicion and distrust between claimants and welfare officers were reported, particularly among younger, male and urban jobseekers. In the main the experience of unemployment was narrated as the internalisation of market failure- so typically people felt they lost their jobs because of the recession, but were they to have been better positioned, they might not have become unemployed. Read More

Tegenprestatie: welfare conditionality the Dutch way

February 14, 2017     Leave a Comment

WelCond Project Director Peter Dwyer reflects on a recent conference in Rotterdam that debated ideas about social inclusion and employment

I was recently invited by Rotterdam City Council to speak at a national event about welfare conditionality in the Netherlands and more particularly ‘Tegenprestatie’. Roughly translated into English this refers to the ‘civic contribution’ that Dutch people are required to make when in receipt of social assistance benefits. The conference entitled ‘De zin en onzin van de Rotterdamse Tegenprestatie: Vijf jaar Tegenprestatie’ (‘The sense and nonsense of the Rotterdam Consideration: reflecting on five years’) was a stimulating event that brought together a range of stakeholders, including jobseekers, activation coaches, policymakers, practitioners and academics featured for a series of lively presentations and debates. Read More

Gamers or victims: how can you ‘play the game’ on benefits if you don’t know the rules?

February 9, 2017     Leave a Comment

150JennyWelfare Conditionality Project researcher Dr Jenny McNeill has co-authored one of the Journal of Poverty and Social Justice’s ‘top five’ most read articles of 2016. Here she summarises the main issues

Media and government are fixated on the pervasiveness of so-called ‘scroungers’: people cheating the benefits system for welfare they are not entitled to, or those who do not properly take steps to end their dependency on benefits. In 2012, the then-Employment Minister Chris Grayling defended the use of benefit sanctions on the basis that they provide ‘a real deterrent for some people who are either not trying or who are gaming the system’.

Policy makers have also denied structural reasons in favour of emphasising people’s behaviours in explanations for the causes of poverty, unemployment, and social marginalisation. They have thus endorsed a need to ‘nudge’ targeted individuals to reduce welfare dependency. This heightened sense of panic over welfare abuse has in recent decades been called ‘scroungerphobia,’ but fears over the poor subverting the foundations of state or charitable support have much older roots (Rousseau, 1762).

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Interventionist and enforcement responses to rough sleeping and begging: Opportunities, challenges and dilemmas

December 19, 2016     Leave a Comment

Project team member Sarah Johnsen from Heriot-Watt University reports from a recent event on homelessness held in Glasgow

Attempts to deter people from rough sleeping and begging have generated controversy in England, where measures such as assertive outreach, ‘defensive architecture’, Dispersal Orders, arrests, ASBOs, and most recently Public Spaces Protection Orders, have been widely used.  Some stakeholders view such measures as invaluable tools lending weight to attempts to move vulnerable individuals away from damaging lifestyles.  Others worry that they displace the problem and/or make the incredibly difficult circumstances of those affected even worse. Read More

What practical, concrete steps would you suggest to put the security back into social security?

December 14, 2016     Leave a Comment

michael-ortonMichael Orton from the University of Warwick organised a series of events on this important theme recently. Our WelCond team members Lisa Scullion (University of Salford) and Sharon Wright (University of Glasgow) co-hosted two of the events. Here Michael summarises the project

Conditionality is a major issue but it can also be seen as part of more fundamental shift over the last thirty years or so, which has seen the notion of social security largely replaced by the term ‘welfare’ and the now ubiquitous ‘welfare reform’, a euphemism for cuts and increasing socio-economic insecurity. Read More

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