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
‘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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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