A themed section of a journal examined representations of people living in poverty and the politics of welfare reform, in the context of a United Kingdom television series (Benefits Street) that had raised the idea that there were whole communities of people who were disconnected from paid work.
Source: Sociological Research Online, Volume 19 Issue 3
Links: Table of contents
Notes: Articles included:
Jessica Pykett, 'Representing attitudes to welfare dependency: relational geographies of welfare'
Kim Allen, Imogen Tyler, and Sara De Benedictis, 'Thinking with "White Dee": the gender politics of "austerity porn"'
Robert MacDonald, Tracy Shildrick, and Andy Furlong, '"Benefits Street" and the myth of workless communities'
A think-tank report examined British society after the economic downturn and proposed changes to the systems of support for families, young people, older people, and those facing social exclusion, and reforms to social security, employment support, and housing policy.
Source: Kayte Lawton, Graeme Cooke, and Nick Pearce, The Condition of Britain: Strategies for social renewal, Institute for Public Policy Research
A report said that the introduction of a state pension window, rather than a fixed retirement age, in the United Kingdom would help to meet people's desire for more flexibility on when they could access their state pension. It suggested that the window should range from age 65 to age 75, with an adjustment to the amount of the pension (according to the point of actual retirement) to encourage later retirement.
Source: One Size Fits None: Does the flexible workforce of the future need a flexible state pension age?, PricewaterhouseCoopers
An article examined the impact of devolution in the United Kingdom on social security, in the context of the powers retained by the UK government. The article also considered the implications of possible results in the forthcoming Scottish referendum.
Source: Derek Birrell and Ann Marie Gray, 'Welfare reform and devolution: issues of parity, discretion and divergence for the UK government and the devolved administrations', Public Money and Management, Volume 34 Issue 3
A paper examined the implications of Scottish independence for social security – including state, private and public sector pensions – and supporting people into work. It said that Scotland saw current benefits from some areas of devolved policy, but there was mutual benefit for people and employers from United Kingdom-wide aspects such as uniformity of benefits, a single job market, pooling of risks, and an established social security infrastructure that would be costly to reproduce and run in Scotland. It said that expenditure on pensioners would rise more over the next 20 years in Scotland compared with the UK as a whole, and outlined the potential consequences for spending, taxation, and benefits levels.
Source: Scotland Analysis: Work and pensions, Cm 8849, Department for Work and Pensions, TSO
A report provided the baseline findings from a longitudinal study of the emerging consequences of benefit changes on working age social housing tenants in the south west of England. It said that tenants viewed the welfare reforms as a great uncertainty that could disturb their carefully managed, but limited, household budgets. The research had found that reforms led to cuts in income for almost half of the tenants interviewed, and were contributing to the growth of debt and rent arrears. Practical responses to financial pressures, included: reducing expenditure on food, utilities, and other household items; using savings; selling personal items; and asking family members for help. Tenants reported many difficulties in finding work, and the report said there was a general sense that the removal of the spare room subsidy (commonly referred to as the 'bedroom tax') was unfair. The report outlined some initial lessons for housing associations, government, and society. A second round of follow-up interviews was scheduled for April 2014.
Source: Anne Power, Bert Provan, and Eileen Herden, Work and Welfare Reform: Impacts in the South West, CASEreport 81, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (London School of Economics)