What does day-to-day life involve for those who receive out-of-work benefits? Is the political focus on moving people from ‘welfare’ and into work the right one? And do mainstream political and media accounts of the ‘problem’ of ‘welfare’ accurately reflect lived realities?
For whose benefit? The everyday realities of welfare reform explores these questions by talking to those directly affected by recent reforms. Ruth Patrick interviewed single parents, disabled people and young jobseekers on benefits repeatedly over five years to find out how they experienced the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, and whether the welfare state still offers meaningful protection and security in times of need. She reflects on the mismatch between the portrayal of ‘welfare’ and everyday experiences, and the consequences of this for the UK’s ongoing welfare reform programme.
Exploring issues including the meaning of dependency, the impact of benefit sanctions and the reach of benefits stigma, this important book makes a timely contribution to ongoing debates about the efficacy and ethics of welfare reform.
The National Insurance system introduced in 1948 failed to cover all the
contingencies, and over time other benefits were developed to fill in the gaps.
The system has grown progressively more complex. There are five main types of
social security benefit. (Government leaflets used to describe three, but this meant
that some very different kinds of benefit were lumped together.) The five are:
1. National Insurance (for example, Retirement Pension). These are benefits
paid for by contributions.
2. Means-tested benefits (for
Universal benefits go to broad categories of people, without specific tests of means
or needs. The most important is Child Benefit. There have been many proposals for
extending the principle further, such as proposals for Negative Income Tax or Citizen’s
Income, but none of the general systems proposed is able to deal with the diversity
and complexity of circumstances that social security has to respond to. The main scope
for universal benefits is to provide, like Child Benefit, an element of income that is
Discretion is used to fill in gaps in the system, covering circumstances that are difficult
to predict or generalise about. The most important benefit of this type currently is the
Social Fund, which offers a range of grants and loans, including help in emergencies and
help for people with problems of budgeting. Every social security system needs some
element of discretion. The Social Fund, however, is being used not just for unpredictable
or special needs, but to make up for the inadequacy of other benefits
The process of claiming has been transformed, following the movement away from local
administration and paper-based assessments to computerised calculations managed by
call centres. There is still a general assumption that the onus of claiming falls on the
claimant, and this chapter tries to give some idea of what someone needs to do to
receive a benefit. The system is complex, and many people do not claim the benefits
they are entitled to. Welfare rights and advice have developed to help guide people
In calling general attention to the PARISH ROLL for the current year,
the HERITORS and KIRK SESSION flatter themselves, that from the
great diminution of expenditure, since the publication of last year’s Lists,
the inhabitants will be disposed to view with approbation, the measures
that have been pursued, and are still in progress, to mitigate the pressure
of Assessment: and ameliorate the condition of the Poor, by throwing
them more on their own resources, and the kind attention of their
neighbours and relatives. The
In this article we look at systemic violence: the ‘life-shattering violence caused by decisions that are made in parliamentary chambers and government offices’ ( Cooper and Whyte, 2017 : 1) with regard to people with severe disabilities who are in receipt of disability benefits in the UK. We explore how this systemic violence is intrinsic to the political and social practices of maintaining a neoliberal welfare regime, with its predisposition towards the harmful targeting of populations on the wrong side of inequality, unable to meet the demands
The everyday realities of
out-of-work benefits receipt
‘I’m 27 years old and live in a one bedroom flat. I am
currently receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance. I am looking
for a full-time job as a means to pay my bills and support
myself but my long-term goal is to undergo full training
to become a housing support worker.
I have a seven-year-old daughter who comes and stays
with me alternate weekends. I don’t receive any money for
my daughter so most times I find myself going without a
meal so she can eat when she’s in my care. I find it extremely
Taxes, benefits and national profiles of inequality and poverty
taxes, benefits and national profiles of
inequality and poverty
In this chapter, the discussion shifts from one of descriptive policy formation and
design towards one of analysis of outcomes and a comparison of policy between
the systems in 1979, 1997 and 2008. This chapter acts as a bridge between the
earlier discussion and our model lifetime analysis in Chapters Eleven to Fourteen.
We consider the aggregate empirical profiles of policy outcomes over time for
the whole of Britain and