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- Author or Editor: Suzanne Fitzpatrick x
‘Destitution’ has re-entered the lexicon of UK social policy in the 2010s, highlighted by the rapid growth of food banks and rough sleeping in a context of controversial welfare reforms and austerity policies, yet theoretical literature on this remains limited. Specialist surveys have been developed to measure and profile these phenomena, but these remain separate from the mainstream statistical approach to poverty, which relies heavily on large-scale household surveys. Evidence from recent work in this area, including qualitative evidence, is very suggestive of risk and driving factors, but it is difficult to weigh the relative importance of different factors or to predict the effects of policy measures. A composite survey approach is developed, linking a specialised survey targeting households at risk of destitution with a major national household panel dataset, to enable predictive models to be fitted to data including significant representation of hard-to-reach and non-household populations. Models predicting destitution and food bank usage are developed and compared, highlighting the roles of key factors. Vignettes are used to show how the risks vary dramatically between households in different situations. The potential role of such models in micro-simulation or prediction of impacts of different scenarios is discussed.
The rhetoric and practice of localism has attracted significant support within both political and academic circles in the UK in recent years. However, it is the contention of this article that there are, or should be, limits to localism as applied to the basic citizenship rights of vulnerable people. Drawing on a ten-year, mixed-methods study, we use the example of sharply rising homelessness in England to illustrate our argument that localist policymaking has an intrinsic tendency to disadvantage socially marginalised groups. While we acknowledge the central role played by austerity in driving up homelessness over the past decade, we advance the case that the post-2010 localist agenda of successive UK governments has also had an independent and malign effect. At the very least, we seek to demonstrate that localism cannot be viewed as a taken-for-granted progressive model, with centralism (that is, the consistent implementation of a policy across a whole country) also perfectly defensible on progressive grounds in relevant circumstances.
This article reviews the nature and effectiveness of youth involvement in urban regeneration. Drawing on the findings of a substantial UK-wide study, it highlights the limited achievements of youth participation in urban regeneration thus far and the profound difficulties involved in promoting youth empowerment. However, it argues that there are important lessons to be learned about the future direction of youth participation in urban regeneration from the early ‘pioneers’ of involvement strategies. Moreover, it contends that youth participation projects offer opportunities to promote local social cohesion, and that the experience derived from these initiatives can contribute to debates on young people and democratic renewal.
You only need to take a quick glimpse at the Centre for Homelessness Impact’s (CHI) Evidence Finder1 to notice the contrast between the types of homelessness studies produced in the UK and the US. While in the US a large volume of quantitative ‘impact’ studies on homelessness has been generated over many years, homelessness researchers in the UK have tended to be concerned, at least until recently, with more qualitative and conceptual forms of exploration and evaluation. This has profound implications for our ability to answer pressing policy and practice questions, which often require mixed methods approaches that attain both breadth and depth of understanding. This contrast between the US and UK extant homelessness literatures can be traced back to the different research traditions that have emerged over the years on opposite sides of the Atlantic (Fitzpatrick and Christian, 2006). In the UK, applied housing studies specialists have tended to dominate academic research on homelessness, with the important role played by domestic legislation in tackling homelessness in the UK also meaning that there is a strong tradition of socio-legal scholarship in this field (Cowan, 2019). More theoretical contributions in the UK, as in the US, often emerge from urban geography or sociology perspectives (Lancione, 2013), although a sharply contrasting conceptual approach within the UK now sees mainstream moral philosophy applied to the ethical challenges and dilemmas that abound in homelessness policy and practice (Watts et al, 2017). Health-orientated research on homelessness has generally been relatively marginal to the policy debate in the UK, not least because it is often very narrowly focused (for example on oral health or blood-borne viruses among specific homeless subpopulations).
There have been growing concerns about various manifestations of extreme hardship in the UK, which are investigated using both PSE and a survey of emergency service users. A consensus-based definition of destitution is developed and applied to show its current extent and incidence in Britain. While no single cause dominates, the importance of arrears and debts, benefit levels, delays and sanction, health and relationship problems, evictions, job loss and migration are all underlined.