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
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
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
Welfare 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).