Project evidence cited in critical UN Rapporteur report

November 16, 2018     Leave a Comment

Our project’s final findings have been cited in a highly critical interim report on the UK by UN Special Rapporteur on on extreme poverty and human rights, Professor Philip Alston. He referenced the catalogue of harsh, punitive and counterproductive sanctions detailed in our work, particularly under Universal Credit. In his conclusions Professor Alston recommended:

‘The Department of Work and Pensions should conduct an independent review of the effectiveness of reforms to welfare conditionality and sanctions introduced since 2012, and should immediately instruct its staff to explore more constructive and less punitive approaches to encouraging compliance.’ Read More

WelCond evidence cited in comprehensive parliamentary report

November 6, 2018     Leave a Comment

Our project welcomes the Commons Work & Pensions Committee’s landmark report into benefit sanctions, published today. The report, which extensively cites our evidence, calls on government ‘urgently to evaluate the effectiveness of reforms to welfare conditionality and sanctions introduced since 2012, including an assessment of sanctions’ impact on people’s financial and personal well-being’.

The report contrasts government statements on the purpose of sanctions in motivating people to move into work, with extensive evidence that they are ineffective in achieving this. It cites our evidence that Jobcentre Plus’ focus on recipients fulfilling their mandatory conditions, plus recipients’ fear of sanctions, led to ‘counterproductive compliance’. In fact, our independent research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council found that stasis — a lack of significant, sustained change in employment status — was the most common outcome for welfare service users in our study. Read More

Project director takes WelCond messages to Australia

October 29, 2018     Leave a Comment

Our Director Professor Peter Dwyer delivered the opening plenary at the prestigious Australian Council of Social Service annual conference in Sydney today. ACOSS is a national advocate for action to reduce poverty and inequality and the peak body for the community services sector in Australia. Professor Dwyer outlined key messages from our research on the failures of conditionality in the welfare system, and its ineffectiveness in helping people into work. Read More

Our evidence to the UN Special Rapporteur

October 25, 2018     Leave a Comment

Our project has submitted written evidence to the UN Special Rapporteur on on extreme poverty and human rights, Professor Philip Alston.  Professor Alston will undertake an official visit to the UK from 6 to 16 November 2018 at the invitation of the government. His visit will focus, in accordance with his mandate, on the interlinkages between poverty and the realisation of human rights in the United Kingdom.

In our evidence, Project Director Professor Peter Dwyer, University of York; Dr Lisa Scullion, University of Salford, and Dr Sharon Wright, University of Glasgow, write on behalf of our project on the erosion of economic and social rights as a core component of national citizenship status and justifications for such rights on the basis of universal human needs. Based on our final findings, the researchers’ evidence details how benefit sanctions leave many unable to meet their basic needs, with those sanctioned increasingly reliant on charitable and (where available) familial provision for support.

Read our evidence in full.


New video: problems with Universal Credit

October 15, 2018     Leave a Comment

Our new video explains the multiple problems our research found with conditionality in Universal Credit. Negative impacts and counterproductive effects of sanctions were widespread, and for those already in work conditionality simply did not make sense. Our project’s UC lead researcher Dr Sharon Wright from the University of Glasgow explains.

Read our findings in full here.

Early career visiting fellowships offered

October 3, 2018     Leave a Comment

Our project has received funding to support two Visiting Fellowships for early career researchers to spend up to four weeks with us at the University of York, UK. This is part of an initiative to establish an international research network on welfare conditionality within the social security systems in the high income Anglophone nations, to be hosted in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work (SPSW), University of York.

Early career researchers based in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK or the USA are invited to apply. Full details of the scheme, eligibility and application procedures are here. Applications are now closed (12 noon UK time, 1 November 2018).

New video: conditionality didn’t help disabled people into work

September 20, 2018     Leave a Comment

Benefit sanctions had no tangible positive effect in moving disabled people closer to paid work, says researcher Dr Katy Jones from the University of Salford in our new video. On the contrary, they could worsen existing illnesses and move people further away from employment.

The video is based on our project’s final findings (also available in large print). Colleagues Dr Jenny McNeill, Dr Lisa Scullion, Dr Katy Jones and Dr Alasdair B R Stewart also wrote a refereed journal article on disabled claimants’ perspectives of the UK welfare system.

New video: our findings on offenders

September 18, 2018     Leave a Comment

Sanctions fail to encourage people to engage with the social security system in a meaningful way, leading to negative effects. That’s a key point from a new video by our lead researcher on offenders, Professor Del Roy Fletcher from the Centre for Regional, Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University.

Professor Fletcher outlines the way many offenders end up claiming the wrong benefit, and so experiencing high levels of sanctioning. He points to the crucial difference getting support to deal with problems makes in helping bring about sustained behaviour change among this group of welfare service users. Read our findings in full.


Blog: why benefit sanctions are both ineffective and harmful

September 17, 2018     Leave a Comment

Drawing on evidence from our WelCond project, the first major independent study of benefit sanctions, support, and behaviour change, Sharon Wright, Sarah Johnsen, and Lisa Scullion write that not only do sanctions not help move people into work, they also have a detrimental effect on their lives. This is because sanctions push recipients further into poverty and cause significant distress in the process, with potentially life-changing negative results. This post first appeared on the LSE Politics & Policy Blog. Read the full text.

Glasgow team launch project’s Scottish findings

September 13, 2018     Leave a Comment

Our researchers from the University of Glasgow have called for greater social security powers to be devolved to Scotland to end the punitive UK sanction regime.

In Scotland, newly devolved social security legislation is based on the principles of ‘dignity, fairness and respect’, with employment services being needs based and voluntary without sanctions. However, the findings of our new report launched today show that, with many social security powers still reserved to Westminster, it means an ineffective UK system of conditionality and sanctions is causing profound suffering to people in Scotland.

Read More

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