Welfare conditionality, benefit sanctions and homelessness in the UK: ending the ‘something for nothing culture’ or punishing the poor?

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Kesia Reeve Sheffield Hallam University, UK

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In 2012 the UK government introduced the harshest regime of conditionality and sanctions in the history of the benefits system. The government insists sanctions are not punitive, but critics call this into question. In particular, the regime has been charged with disproportionately affecting vulnerable people. Based on a survey and qualitative interviews with homeless people, this paper shows that homeless people are disproportionately sanctioned, and argues that it is difficult to see the regime as anything but punishment — punishment not for refusing to participate in the labour market, but for being unable to do so through homelessness, poverty and ill-health.

Kesia Reeve Sheffield Hallam University, UK

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