In a recent announcement about cutting youth unemployment benefits, Ed Miliband taps into prevailing public opinion by insisting that those on benefits must work to acquire skills in order to deserve them. The way he speaks of those who claim benefits is completely in tune with those who demonise the poor, with sound bites such as ‘Labour… will get young people to sign up for training, not sign on for benefits’.[i]
This prevailing belief is in stark contrast to two key trends over the last few decades, argues Peter Taylor-Gooby, Professor of Social Policy at the University of Kent in a paper to be published in Policy & Politics. He explains: “The first is that about three-fifths of people below the poverty line live in households where there is at least one full-time earner. Much working-age poverty is a problem of low wages, not of unemployment and ‘spongers’. Secondly, spending in other areas of the welfare state such as health care, pensions and education has grown very much faster than the benefits directed at the poor, unemployment benefit and social housing. Spending on the poor is unimportant as a cause of current public spending problems.” Continue reading Why is Labour demonising the poor and widening social inequalities?→
Paul Copeland, Queen Mary University of London, and Mary Daly, University of Oxford offer a critical analysis of EU social policy in their article available in the latest issue of Policy & Politics.
Having written about EU social policy for over a decade, our view is that the EU currently is going nowhere in its social policies to combat poverty and social exclusion. Such policies are in themselves ambitious and also novel in an EU context – centring on the 2010 target within the EU’s Europe 2020 reform programme, the EU aims to reduce the numbers living in poverty and social exclusion by 20 million by 2020. While this broke new ground when it was agreed we remain skeptical in terms of the ability of the EU to make progress and achieve substantive positive outcomes on poverty. In our paper we construct a framework to analyse the significance of a policy area within a governance architecture, such as Europe 2020. Continue reading Poverty and social policy in Europe 2020→
Stephen Sinclair ponders how far voluntarism can be pushed in his recent paper in Policy & Politics. In this blog he discusses what prompted him to the write the paper and gives an overview of the key themes.
Like many people, I have to attend a lot of meetings and not all of them are very interesting. So when what I expected to be a rather dry and technical event turned into a heated debate it is worth further reflection. There would seem no reason to expect a seminar outlining the UK government’s proposals to reform credit unions to be particularly contentious; however this paper discusses the raw nerve that this meeting exposed. The sensitive issue at stake was the basic questions of what and who credit unions are for. Continue reading Credit Union Modernisation and the Limits of Voluntarism→
“Arguments about poverty,” note Paul Copeland and Mary Daly in a recent article, “go to the heart of political disagreement in Europe,” because they express profound differences about social policy and models of capitalism. The European commitment to fight poverty and social exclusion has thus moved over the years, from the ambitious decision to make social inclusion an explicit goal governed by the new Open Method of Coordination (OMC) with the Lisbon strategy in 2000, to a more circumscribed vision giving priority to economic growth and job creation after 2005, and to an ambiguous but nevertheless explicit quantitative target agreed upon in the summer of 2010, “to lift at least 20 million people out of the risk of poverty and social exclusion” by 2020. But changing orientations at the European level are not the only manifestation of political disagreement about poverty. Important differences are also expressed through the distinct ways member states have interpreted the common objectives. Continue reading The Politics of Poverty in the European Union→
The July issue of Policy & Politics is out now. You can access the full issue here.
The latest issue of Policy & Politics is now available for download or in print. This issue has five articles that relate directly to the themes of poverty and social inclusion. Jonathan Greene’s article explores the way that poverty is ‘managed’ through an examination of homelessness in London between 1979 and 1993. Drawing on social movement theory and relating his analysis to collective action, he thinks though these findings for current homeless politics. Alain Noel and Florence Larocque discuss the issue of poverty through a similarly retrospective lens. Their analysis of data between 2001 and 2006 relates to the responses of the EU-15 and the open method of co-ordination. With some caveats, they highlight the ‘enduring power of national institutions’ in this field. Paul Copeland and Mary Daly also concentrate on the EU, and critique its target to reduce poverty and social inclusion in Europe by 20 million. Continue reading July 2014 issue of Policy & Politics→
Seosamh Mac Cárthaigh discusses the background to his article on ‘Need and poverty’ which is about to be published in the next issue of Policy & Politics.
How much poverty is found in a society depends on how poverty is defined and measured. In an obvious sense, the definition of poverty must come first. If we do not have a clear understanding of what it means to say that people are poor, we are unlikely to be able to devise measures which yield meaningful estimates of the number of people who can be so described.
Unhappily, the meaning of poverty is often taken for granted in scholarly research on the topic. It is not uncommon for estimates of poverty to be presented without any supporting discussion of how those estimates are to be interpreted. Where issues of interpretation are addressed, the discussion is frequently limited to a few paragraphs or even sentences. While studies usually offer some description of the measures used, they generally have little to say about why those measures were chosen in the first place or about what they are intended to capture. Continue reading We need to talk about poverty→