Category Archives: Family policy and welfare

Undermining needs-based social security

alexmarsh-300x168An extended version of this post was originally published on 3 November 2016 on the blog of the School for Policy Studies at the University of Bristol. The original post is available at http://policystudies.blogs.ilrt.org/

Alex Marsh, Chair of the Policy & Politics Management Board and also Professor of Public Policy at the University of Bristol and a leading academic on housing, anticipates some consequences of Monday’s roll out of the Coalition’s policy to lower the cap on benefits. It doesn’t make optimistic reading…

Undermining needs-based social security
We are about to see one of the welfare policies of the late, only occasionally lamented Coalition government bear particularly ugly fruit. Next Monday the process of lowering the Overall Benefit Cap (OBC) from £26,000 per year begins. Over the coming months the policy will be rolled out across the country, with the cap being reduced to £20,000 outside London and £23,000 in London. Continue reading Undermining needs-based social security

How do children’s environments contribute to their life satisfaction?

Amy Clair.jpgAmy Clair, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Oxford

Recent years have seen an increase in interest in how happy children are with their lives in many countries.

Comparisons of wealthy nations show that there is cause for concern, with many studies finding that the UK lags behind in terms of how satisfied children are with their lives, ranking bottom of a Unicef report in 2007 for example (although there was some evidence of improvement in 2013).  In order to improve this, we must improve our understanding what drives children’s satisfaction.

There has been a lot of work investigating how individual characteristics impact life satisfaction, for example we know that girls report lower satisfaction than boys. However, there has been relatively little work examining how children’s environments affect how satisfied they feel about their lives.  Two of the main environments in the majority of children’s lives are the home and the school.  These locations are where children spend the bulk of their time and they provide the location for many of their important relationships, with parents, teachers, and friends for example.

Continue reading How do children’s environments contribute to their life satisfaction?

Welfare reforms are based on the wrong assumptions about benefit recipients’ motivations and actions

profile photoSocial security systems are being transformed according to untested assumptions about how benefit recipients act. Sharon Wright provides evidence to challenge several core myths on which British welfare reforms have been based. There is a wide gap between the dominant way in which welfare subjects are represented in political and media debate and the lived experiences of those receiving benefits and using support services.

Over the last 15 years, British welfare reforms have focussed on individualising responsibility and contracting-out services. These strategies share a behaviour change logic that assumes the source of the problem is to be found in the flawed motivations and actions of benefit recipients and their job coaches. Consecutive UK governments have been strongly committed to the idea of ‘getting people off benefits and into work’, despite long periods of minimal unemployment rates and exceptionally high employment rates. Continue reading Welfare reforms are based on the wrong assumptions about benefit recipients’ motivations and actions

The Welfare state: A Case of Plus cá change?

Anthony McCashin
Anthony McCashin

by Anthony McCashin, Trinity College Dublin

Paul Pierson shaped the terms on which we considered the sources and scale of welfare state change. Would a critical review of Pierson’s claims still endorse them? Our Policy & Politics article entitled How much change? Pierson and the welfare state revisited attempts to answer this question.

First, welfare state resilience: while appropriate, perhaps, to Pierson’s analysis of ‘early’ retrenchers like Reagan in the US, or Swedish Social Democrats in the 1990s, this term no longer reflects the variety and depth of change – especially in social security. Second, globalisation: here Pierson is on more certain ground. On the one hand, there are strong nationally based drivers of change- such as ageing and health care costs. On the other, individual welfare states have quite distinct economies (and institutions) and these filter the influence of globalisation. Welfare states remain specific and diverse and are not flattened into conformity by globalisation. Continue reading The Welfare state: A Case of Plus cá change?

Setting the stage for another reform? Changing narratives around disability benefit recipients in the UK

Zach Morris
Zach Morris

by Zach Morris, School of Social Welfare, University of Berkeley, USA

The Department of Work and Pensions recently released the statistics for those who died after being found “fit for work,” and thus ineligible for disability benefits in the U.K. The Guardian reports that nearly 90 people a month are dying after being found fit for work. Caution is due, however, before interpreting the outcome of the assessment process as the cause of these deaths. Yet, the emergence of these figures and their wide reporting in the press shed light on how the public is coming to perceive the country’s recent experiment with disability benefit cuts. The growing attention to this issue could lead to increasing support for disability benefit recipients, which, as reported in my P&P article on the topic and shown below, has been in decline for many years. If so, now may prove an opportune time for political entrepreneurs Continue reading Setting the stage for another reform? Changing narratives around disability benefit recipients in the UK

The Conservative government’s promotion of financialisation is transforming citizenship in the UK

Craig Berry
Craig Berry

Craig Berry is Deputy Director of the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Sheffield. His latest article ‘Citizenship in a financialised society: financial inclusion and the state before and after the crash’ is available on fast track.

While the New Labour-ish language of ‘financial inclusion’ and ‘asset-based welfare’ has been quietly eschewed, since 2010 the Conservative Party has continued its predecessor’s agenda around promoting more extensive and intensive participation in the financial system, through asset ownership, in order to enable individuals to play an enhanced role in ensuring their own long term financial security.

This agenda is, understandably, usually assessed in terms of the impact on financial well-being. Yet its implications for the meaning and practice of citizenship may be just as significant Continue reading The Conservative government’s promotion of financialisation is transforming citizenship in the UK

Summer budget 2015: Lower income families hit by housing policy changes

Chair of the Policy & Politics Board Alex Marsh reviews the implications of the proposal to cut housing association rents by 1% each year for the next four years, announced as part of the recent government summer budget. This post was originally published on the Policy Press blog.

Alex Marsh
Alex Marsh

George Osborne’s recent “emergency” budget proposed many changes to state support to lower income households in a bid to fulfil the Conservatives’ manifesto pledge to cut £12bn from welfare spending.

One unexpected aspect of this package was the proposal to cut housing association rents by 1% each year for the next four years.

This proposal was justified with reference to social housing rent rises over the last few years. These have pushed up the already substantial housing benefit bill. Households have needed greater state assistance in order to afford the rents being set. Bearing down on rents over the next few years will, it is claimed, both reduce the housing benefit bill and force social landlords to deliver efficiency gains. Continue reading Summer budget 2015: Lower income families hit by housing policy changes