Presentation on theme: "Last time... Student feedback exercise (2 nd Feb): what does ‘citizenship’ means? A problematic concept that largely contributes towards perpetuating the."— Presentation transcript:
Last time... Student feedback exercise (2 nd Feb): what does ‘citizenship’ means? A problematic concept that largely contributes towards perpetuating the status quo by serving to exclude ‘outsiders’ A battleground upon which to mobilise bottom- up, grassroots collective action in pursuit of greater social justice Largely ‘meaningless’ – in need of challenging? Alternative concepts? Human rights?
Evaluating New Labour’s welfare reforms - strategies of inclusion or exclusion?
Background New Labour and ‘Social Exclusion’ Critique and concerns Conclusion
Background ‘Social exclusion’ discourse originated in France in the 1980s Debate in Britain prompted by New Labour’s inheritance of a deeply divided society in 1997 – except for New Zealand, Britain experienced the highest growth in income inequality since 1979 (JRF 1995) New Labour committed to Conservative spending plans for first 2 years of office (with no income tax rises) – convergence with neo-liberal economic orthodoxy ‘Social exclusion’ served to differentiate New Labour’s social polices from previous Conservatives Established the Social Exclusion Unit in 1997 to co-ordinate policies aimed at tackling unemployment, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime environments, bad health and family breakdown.
New Labour’s definition of ‘social exclusion’ ‘Social exclusion is about more than income poverty. It is a short–hand term for what can happen when people or areas have a combination of linked problems, such as unemployment, discrimination, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime and family breakdown. These problems are linked and mutually reinforcing’ ‘Social exclusion has its roots in poor early years, is compounded by the absence of basics such as a job and a home, and is often left unsolved by public services working in silos. The Social Exclusion Task Force aims to correct this. We work with the rest of government to identify priorities, test solutions, and facilitate collaboration across government’ (Cabinet Office 2009 at: )
Policies aimed at inclusion Emphasis on getting people back into paid work through ‘welfare to work’ New Deal programmes and ‘making work pay’ (via the National Minimum Wage and Working Tax Credits) Particular focus on getting parents back to work through ‘support’ for ‘childcare’ Measures aimed at supporting parenting – e.g. Sure Start introduced to integrate services (childcare, education, health, etc.) for child support (up to 14 years) Efforts to raise educational attainment (e.g. EAZs, Excellence in Cities, Connexions) Efforts aimed at improving service delivery (via joined-up thinking, better targeting and community engagement)
Achievements claimed to date? ‘To tackle income poverty, the focus has been on helping people into work, including through the New Deals, welfare to work and tax credits to make work pay... To tackle poor services, funding has increased and performance management improved. As a result, schools in the poorest areas have been improving at a faster rate than the rest, and better early years services have enabled many women to return to work, reducing child poverty and delivering a firm foundation for future learning and development for nearly all three and four year olds. And to tackle powerlessness, community engagement has been placed at the heart of regeneration, through programmes like the New Deal for Communities and Neighbourhood Renewal...’ (Cabinet Office 2009, ibid).
Future priorities ‘Parenting and the early years have a new importance... The links between problems have a new importance. After improving the quality of particular services, it is now important to improve the joins between them. We are developing a much better understanding of the relationship of poverty to a set of complex problems.... We now need to consider solutions that start with the problems as experienced by the individual and family and their articulated needs, and provide a coordinated response across a range of services that is greater rather than less than the sum of the parts. And prevention has a new importance. Better data is making it increasingly possible to identify earlier who needs support....’ (Cabinet Office 2009, ibid).
New Labour and ‘social exclusion’ – an analysis Represents a shift in emphasis in Labour Party politics away from a concern with ‘social inequality’ and unequal income distribution – effectively depoliticises poverty Focus now on the ‘handicaps’ of the excluded ‘them’, and how to integrate them with the included ‘us’ (a ‘deficit model’) Represents closure of other possibilities (i.e. the redistribution of wealth and power) (Byrne 2006)
3 Discourses of Social Exclusion A redistributionist discourse (RED) - prime concern is poverty and inequality (solution: redistribution of wealth and power) A moral underclass discourse (MUD) - prime concern is the behaviour of the poor and ‘dependency culture’ (solution: moral and behavioural reform) A social integrationist discourse (SID) - prime concern is inclusion through paid work (solution: work incentivisation schemes) (Levitas 2005)
New Labour’s discourse?
Critique: strategies of inclusion or exclusion? Emphasis on inclusion through paid work problematic: Impact of pressure to work at all costs (including lone parents with children 7 years old) on family life and the wellbeing of children (quality of childcare provision variable)? (See Good Childhood Enquiry 2009 and Unicef Report 2007) Effect of the credit crunch on Britain’s labour market?
The Credit Crunch Significant reduction in the availability of loans for mortgages and small businesses (or severe tightening of the conditions required to obtain a loan) Largely caused by an anticipated decline in the value of the collateral used by the banks to secure the loans – i.e. in August 2007, this being the sudden fall in property values in US (particularly hitting the sub-prime market) – leading to lenders wanting their money back Root cause of problem has been overborrowing in US and UK (esp on housing) fuelled by low interest rates, rising property values, speculation and reckless lending practices (Northern Rock 130% mortgages at 6x salary) – set within the context of a deregulated financial market.
The Credit Crunch Loss of confidence in banking sector as banks faced increasing losses on their loans (threatening their solvency). Wholesale creditors to banks (assorted financial institutions) sought their money back September 2008 – banking system on verge of collapse Treasury sought to prop up sector through nationalisations (Northern Rock, B&B and HBOS) and loan guarantees to others (£600bn by October 2008) Govt announce further loan guarantees for corporate and consumer debt to encourage lending.
The impact of the credit crunch on the employment rate
Economy 2009 Global downturn - but UK predicted to shrink the most (by 2.8 per cent) (IMF 2009, World Economic Outlook) UK unemployment expected to exceed 3m by end of year (The Independent 29/1/09) Housebuilding at lowest level since 1924 (Guardian 15/12/08) Housing repossessions expected to reach 75,000 in year – highest since 1991 (Guardian 4/12/08)
Other areas of concern Impact of competition between schools on social inclusion? Community engagement in social programmes problematic – whose community? And for whose benefit? Who gains? Who loses? (refer to community safety, cohesion and wellbeing) Lack of political influence locally and globally – with power increasingly residing with global multi-national corporations (aided by a powerful network of international finance institutions)
Conclusion New Labour define problem of ‘social exclusion’ in terms of flawed behavioural factors and barriers to paid work - policy solutions seek to transform behaviour and remove barriers to paid work Byrne questions the authenticity of this agenda: ‘[E]xclusion is... a necessary and inherent characteristic of an unequal postindustrial capitalism founded around a flexible labour market and with a systematic constraining of the organizational powers of workers as collective actors.... ’ As such, ‘it is impossible to eliminate it by any set of social policies directed at the excluded alone’ (Byrne 2005, pp. 173, 175-6). In which case, can anything be done?