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  • Author or Editor: Alasdair Stewart x
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Moving disabled people ‘off benefits and into work’ has been an explicit aim of work-first welfare reform since 2008, increasingly punitively since 2010. The aim of this article is to demonstrate, for the first time, how Universal Credit (UC) fits with and intensifies that strategy. Empirical data from 28 in-depth interviews with 19 claimants (nine were interviewed twice) and three focus groups with 23 Jobcentre staff show how UC full service applies mainstream job search conditionality to people with mental health problems. Ongoing fear of sanctions, financial hardship, surveillance and social isolation relating to digital design had adverse impacts, including for those without previous mental health problems.

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This paper highlights and explores how conditionality operating at three levels (the EU supranational level, the UK national level and in migrants’ mundane ‘street level’ encounters with social security administrators), come together to restrict and have a negative impact on the social rights of EU migrants living in the UK. Presenting analysis of new data generated in repeat qualitative interviews with 49 EU migrants resident in the UK, the paper makes an original contribution to understanding how the conditionality inherent in macro level EU and UK policy has seriously detrimental effects on the everyday lives of individual EU migrants.

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