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  • Author or Editor: Katy Jones x
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In exchange for their receipt of conditional benefits such as JobSeekers Allowance and Universal Credit, people experiencing homelessness are expected to engage in mandatory job search or other work-related activities. However, many homeless people have become alienated from mainstream employment support as a result of difficulties in meeting these compulsory conditions. Recognising their exclusion from the mainstream welfare system, this chapter focuses on an alternative source of employment support for homeless adults - that offered by third sector homelessness organisations. Drawing on new data from interviews with homelessness practitioners, it uncovers a range of employment-related support available to homeless people accessing support from third sector providers. It then considers two key potentially contradictory issues. First, whilst a range of employment-related support services delivered by third sector organisations’ own programmes and initiatives are identified, much of this appears to be focussed on mitigating the impacts of the increasingly conditional nature of the statutory welfare system. Second, while appearing critical of the increasingly conditional statutory system and the impacts that a punitive welfare state is having on those they are supporting, some of the approaches adopted by these agencies also incorporate elements of conditionality.

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UK employment policy is at a critical juncture; the effects of COVID-19 and Brexit on the labour market have heightened pre-existing and created new employment and income inequalities. Such experiences (and related temporary government policy responses) play out alongside the long-term roll-out of Universal Credit, a social security policy that imposes conditionality on a range of individuals, including people who are in work. As Universal Credit has the potential to transform power dynamics between individuals, the state and employers, revisiting and questioning the direction of active labour market policies (ALMPs) should unite the interests of diverse social security and employment researchers. Policymakers should draw on an abundance of research to reform the UK’s ALMPs and avoid replicating the problems of narrowly conceived work-first programmes and practices. In this chapter, we explore the role of social policy researchers in influencing policy change, reflecting on our own experiences as early career researchers. We advocate a ‘pragmatic realist’ approach to policy engagement and reflect on different approaches to operating at the evidence–policy interface.

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Full systematic reviews are time and resource heavy. We describe a method successfully used to produce a rapid review of yoga for health and wellbeing, with limited resources, using mapping methods. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were developed a priori and refined post hoc , with the review team blind to the study results to minimise the introduction of bias. This method allowed the review to be tailored to make use of the best available evidence and the health topics of most relevance to the commissioners, and to enable the evidence base to be disseminated to practitioners in a timely fashion.

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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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Chapter 8 draws together the evidence and discussions presented in the preceding chapters. It is concluded that the imposition of behavioural conditionality as the preferred solution to complex social issues deflects our gaze away from the ideological and structural factors that are fundamental to understanding and responding to the poverty and other inequalities that continue to blight societies. Welfare conditionality is punitive, undermines the promise of social citizenship, sets vulnerable people up to fail and serves individuals with multiple and complex needs particularly badly. Furthermore, it is counterproductive, ineffective and unethical. It is therefore time to end the misguided obsession with behaviour change and focus on promoting meaningful employment support, genuine social security and greater equality.

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Sanctions Support and Behaviour Change

Should a citizen’s right to social welfare be contingent on their personal behaviour?

Welfare conditionality, linking citizens’ eligibility to social benefits and services to prescribed compulsory responsibilities or behaviours, has become a key component of welfare reform in many nations.

This book uses qualitative longitudinal data from repeat interviews with people subject to compulsion and sanction in their everyday lives to analyse the effectiveness and ethicality of welfare conditionality in promoting and sustaining behaviour change in the UK.

Given the negative outcomes that welfare conditionality routinely triggers, this book calls for the abandonment of these sanctions and reiterates the importance of genuinely supportive policies that promote social security and wider equality.

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This chapter initially defines the concept of welfare conditionality within a discussion of the competing principles and normative positions used to justify, or oppose, the provision of collectivised welfare provisions. It argues that the ascendency and consolidation of the principle and practices of welfare conditionality, internationally, is linked to the foregrounding of contractualism and activation inherent in ongoing reforms in many diverse, contemporary national welfare states. It is concluded that welfare conditionality reconfigures and diminishes the notion of social citizenship.

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This chapter outlines and discusses the increasing prominence of welfare conditionality within the UK welfare state. Concentrating mainly on key policies initiated since the mid-1990s, discussions in this chapter outline developments in relation to the implementation of welfare conditionality in three substantive areas of the UK welfare state, namely: social security; social housing; and the management of ‘antisocial behaviour’ among groups of citizens variously labelled as problematic or vulnerable. The chapter locates the intensification and extension of behavioural conditionality within the wider context of policies that have delivered austerity, welfare state retrenchment and devolution since 2010.

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Conditional welfare interventions are regarded as important instruments of behaviour change by many governments. This chapter offers an overview of economic and psychological theories on behaviour change that influence the thinking of contemporary policymakers. A consideration of the conceptualisation of agency and behaviour within the welfare conditionality literature and the relevance of different policy tools (that is, sanction, support, sermons and nudges) that policymakers use when attempting to change the behaviour of those reliant on social welfare benefits and services is offered in the second section. The third section reviews existing evidence on the effectiveness of welfare conditionality, in either moving those reliant on social welfare benefits into paid work or promoting the cessation of problematic behaviour among sections of the population.

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