Virtual issue on The changing nature of welfare

P&P editorsSarah Ayres, Steve Martin and Felicity Matthews,
Co-editors of Policy & Politics

New virtual issue from Policy & Politics: The changing nature of welfare

While Policy & Politics has always tracked debates about the changing nature of welfare globally, our need to understand the implications of such changes is proving more crucial than ever during this global pandemic.  In particular, it is clear that this pandemic will have differentiated impacts, with those who are poorer and more vulnerable more likely to be adversely affected. To help think about how these challenges can be tackled, this special collection brings together a range of insights from recent articles that consider the changing nature of welfare and what this means for welfare recipients.

In our first article, Toby Lowe, Jonathan Kimmitt, Rob Wilson, Mike Martin and Jane Gibbon analyse a new policy tool launched in 2010 designed to link the outcomes of social interventions to payments: social impact bonds. One of its main principles is that private investors shoulder the financial risk of these interventions rather than public funds. In one of the first ever detailed analyses of social impact bonds, the authors show evidence of congruence between stakeholders at the planning stage. However, a range of significant tensions subsequently emerge over managing the complexity of the SIB contract and the performance of those delivering social interventions, largely consequent on the contract’s outcome-oriented targets. If such tensions and conflicts are apparent in other SIB programmes then this has serious implications for how well those contracts work and potentially the quality of care received by beneficiaries.

Our second article by Peter Dwyer, Lisa Scullion, Katy Jones and Alisdair Stewart explores how conditionality on EU migrants in the UK restricts social rights, operating at three levels. At the EU level, migrants are only guaranteed rights providing they are actively working. At the national level, the UK and other countries have implemented strict conditionalities for welfare payments that often exclude EU migrants. At the street-level, these policies and general anti-immigration discourses have led to the abolishment of the right to interpreters, and an increase in perceived xenophobia in individual encounters with jobcentre advisers. These findings enhance our understanding of how the conditionality inherent in macro level EU and UK policy has seriously detrimental effects on the everyday lives of EU migrants.

Our third article by Anthony Kevins and Kees van Kerbergen also focusses on how welfare policies affect migrants, and specifically considers how certain approaches to welfare provision can shape the integration of migrants into the national community.  The authors argue that, although universalism is broadly regarded as central to the integrative and solidarity-building potential of welfare states, the traditional approach to understanding the concept is fraught with inconsistencies. Instead, rather than comparing welfare states using the classical universalist-selectivist dichotomy, the authors suggest that they should be thought of as embodying various ‘packages’ of universalist traits – all of which are unified by their connection to a core, self-sustaining logic of solidarity. Through their comparison of Canadian and Danish universalism, the authors then show why ‘classically universalist’ Denmark is facing threats to solidarity and migrant integration that are much more intense than those found in ‘classically selectivist’ Canada.

Our fourth and final article by Peter Taylor-Gooby, Ben Leruth and Heejung Chung presents an interesting range of findings based on the attitudes to welfare held by those who participate in deliberative forums, and the way in which the deliberative process shapes these attitudes. In terms of attitudes, their research shows how the UK’s neoliberal market-centredness fits with enthusiasm for state healthcare and pensions, a desire to close national labour markets to immigrants and approval of government interventions to expand opportunities for those willing to make an effort. Their findings point to the strength of the work ethic and individual responsibility alongside a regret that major and highly valued state services appear unsustainable. Immigrants are constructed as simultaneously a burden on provision and unfair labour-market competitors by way of arguing for the development of a ‘new risk’ welfare state through social investment. The study is important in revealing the complexity of responses to current challenges in an increasingly liberal-leaning welfare state.

All the articles featured in this blog are listed below and are free to download from 1 July until 8 July 2020:

The institutional work of creating and implementing Social Impact Bonds

The impact of conditionality on the welfare rights of EU migrants in the UK [Open Access]

The effects of welfare state universalism on migrant integration

Identifying attitudes to welfare through deliberative forums: the emergence of reluctant individualism [Open Access]

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