DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL POLICY AND INTERVENTIONMoney matters in low/moderateincome families and the genderimplications of UK ...
Outline  Welfare reform in the UK: proposals for universal credit and  potential gender issues  Equality impact assessment...
Welfare reform in the UK: proposals foruniversal credit  Context: focus on ‘welfare to work’, increased means testing  Rec...
Potential gender issues in relation touniversal credit Joint claims; + (as now) joint assessment of income & assets; both ...
Equality impact assessments: currentposition in UK Government must show due regard, when developing new policies/processes...
Qualitative research on low/moderateincome couples Within Household Inequalities and Public Policy research: part of Gende...
Findings: importance of independentincome Togetherness: ‘all in one pot’ was catchphrase, with both men and women talking ...
‘I think you’ve got to have a little bit of your own … I wouldn’tsay security … but I’ve never been used to being totally ...
Evidence from other qualitativeresearch Recent study of 30 BME women in low-income families in north-east England found th...
Gender implications for welfare reform Importance of access to independent income (wage/benefit) which is not dependent on...
Findings: responsibility for spendingand managing Continuity of traditional gendered patterns in our sample (largely long-...
‘I’m bills, she’s food etc.’ (Case 17, man). ‘I am mostly respons-ible for, like, the food shopping and household things, ...
Evidence from other qualitativeresearch Women are ‘shock absorbers’ of poverty (Lister, in WBG, 2006) Women tend to manage...
Gender implications for welfare reform Daily/weekly items are easier to cut with financial pressures, so monthly payment o...
Discussion: reflections on policyinfluencing    Involvement to date has included:-   Assistance with preliminary gender as...
Obstacles to influencing:-   government had clear idea of objectives and favoured system-   financial constraints (governm...
Assumptions apparently being made in policy making:- ‘you can’t (and shouldn’t) affect how families deal with money’- but ...
Despite danger of undermining government’s own aims:    Worse incentives for ‘2nd earners’ could work against:-   aims of ...
Conclusions: value of qualitativeresearch  Government proposals on universal credit have been much  influenced by (particu...
Proposals for universal credit also very influenced byideology (unitary view of family + equal sharing/malebreadwinner hou...
Conclusions: essential components ofgender analysis of welfare reform  Gender impact assessment of Welfare Reform Bill exa...
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Money matters in low moderate income families and the gender implications of uk welfare reform

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Money matters in low moderate income families and the gender implications of uk welfare reform

  1. 1. DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL POLICY AND INTERVENTIONMoney matters in low/moderateincome families and the genderimplications of UK welfare reformFran BennettSenior Research Fellow, Department of Social Policyand Intervention, University of OxfordSirin Sung,University Lecturer, Queens University Belfast26-27 May 2011, Qualitative Research For Policy MakingMay 26, 2011
  2. 2. Outline Welfare reform in the UK: proposals for universal credit and potential gender issues Equality impact assessments of policy proposals Gender implications for welfare reform of findings from qualitative research on low/moderate income couples/families Discussion: reflections on policy influencing Conclusions:- value of qualitative research for policy on welfare reform;- essential components of gender analysis of welfare reform Presentation title, edit in May 26, 2011 header and footer (view menu)
  3. 3. Welfare reform in the UK: proposals foruniversal credit Context: focus on ‘welfare to work’, increased means testing Recent history:- benefit simplification seen as key, including ‘single working age benefit’ (proposed by think tanks + Labour government)- activation of partners + joint claims for jobseeker’s allowance White Paper: Universal Credit: Welfare that Works (2010) + Welfare Reform Bill: universal (sic) credit phased in from 2013; abolishes distinction in/out of work; ‘all work rewarded’ Means-tested, bringing together benefits in and out of work and housing benefit etc. (not non-means-tested benefits) Presentation title, edit in May 26, 2011 header and footer (view menu)
  4. 4. Potential gender issues in relation touniversal credit Joint claims; + (as now) joint assessment of income & assets; both partners to fulfil (work-related) conditions if appropriate Focus on getting one person in household into paid work: as now, couple disregard, not individual; many ‘2nd earners’’ incentives worse; government not concerned about 2nd earners giving up work, but sees this as improving work/life balance Couples choose which partner is payee – payment not split (eg child + childcare elements to main carer) as now Payment likely to be monthly (not weekly/fortnightly, as now) and single taper (withdrawal rate) applied as income rises Presentation title, edit in May 26, 2011 header and footer (view menu)
  5. 5. Equality impact assessments: currentposition in UK Government must show due regard, when developing new policies/processes, to their impact on race, disability and gender; Equality Act 2010 (April 2011) adds new categories Processes should be in place to help ensure that : - strategies/policies/services are free from discrimination; - departments comply with equalities legislation; - due regard is given to equality in decision making etc.; + - opportunities for promoting equality are identified. Equality Impact Assessments: show impact on protected groups (including women) of proposed policy changes, to ensure that policies do what is intended and for everybody Presentation title, edit in May 26, 2011 header and footer (view menu)
  6. 6. Qualitative research on low/moderateincome couples Within Household Inequalities and Public Policy research: part of Gender Equality Network (www.genet.ac.uk), funded by Economic and Social Research Council Aim: to take account of gender inequalities within household in assessing impacts of welfare reforms and associated policies Qualitative research: semi-structured interviews (with men and women separately) in low/moderate income couples in GB Relevant findings: loyalty to coupledom, but women more aware of autonomy issues; women often responsible for spend- ing on children + day to day items, managing family budget etc. Presentation title, edit in May 26, 2011 header and footer (view menu)
  7. 7. Findings: importance of independentincome Togetherness: ‘all in one pot’ was catchphrase, with both men and women talking about their ‘team’, ‘no yours and mine’ etc. BUT ‘choice’ exercised by couple is gendered choice – both may believe in togetherness, but joint decisions can still have unequal impact (couples’ choice is not same as individuals’) And receipt of independent income means someone is more likely to have a say/be able to maintain separate finances/not have to ask for money/not have to justify personal spending Joint accounts common, but women were more likely to have individual account (with benefits/tax credits often paid into it) Presentation title, edit in May 26, 2011 header and footer (view menu)
  8. 8. ‘I think you’ve got to have a little bit of your own … I wouldn’tsay security … but I’ve never been used to being totally hand inhand with somebody with finances’ (Case 27, woman)‘If I wasn’t [making that contribution via wages] then I’d bedependent on him. I don’t like being dependent on people.Although [my wages] are, like, family money, they’re like, mywages.’ (Case 1, woman)‘I used to [justify my personal spending], but I think not now I’mearning my own money. Because he was the mainbreadwinner. I suppose I felt I had to ask for money if I wantedit for my clothes and things.’ (Case 18, woman) Presentation title, edit in May 26, 2011 header and footer (view menu)
  9. 9. Evidence from other qualitativeresearch Recent study of 30 BME women in low-income families in north-east England found that some women had so little access to income that their husbands were in control of virtually all aspects of their lives (Warburton Brown, 2011) Even couples with joint account, described as having financial equality, turned out to be less equal on further questioning – but those saying they had more ‘say’ had own earnings Independent income can give more ‘say’ (Goode et al, 1998) – and this can be from non-means-tested benefit as well Presentation title, edit in May 26, 2011 header and footer (view menu)
  10. 10. Gender implications for welfare reform Importance of access to independent income (wage/benefit) which is not dependent on presence/activities of partner But Institute for Fiscal Studies confirms ‘2nd earners’ in many couples to face much higher losses from each £ than now under universal credit Help with childcare costs: unchanged total spending, despite extension to those working under 16 hours – possibility of earning likely to be even more compromised for ‘2nd earners’ Child benefit and carer’s allowance continuing outside universal credit (at least for now) Presentation title, edit in May 26, 2011 header and footer (view menu)
  11. 11. Findings: responsibility for spendingand managing Continuity of traditional gendered patterns in our sample (largely long-standing couples) Men often responsible for monthly bills, women for more frequent items (eg weekly shopping) – including in some cases daily pocket money for man This could change with frequency of pay – but in one example, traditional patterns were so strong couple swopped wages In most cases, women were more responsible for ensuring children’s needs met Presentation title, edit in May 26, 2011 header and footer (view menu)
  12. 12. ‘I’m bills, she’s food etc.’ (Case 17, man). ‘I am mostly respons-ible for, like, the food shopping and household things, and [he]deals with rent, bills, like electric, gas and that sort of thing.’(Case 17, woman)‘My wages go into [her] bank and [her] wages go into my bank… the simple reason being because [she] is paid monthly andthat pays the bills, that stops in the bank and pays all the directdebits. I get paid weekly and [she] does the shopping, and wefind it works a lot better like that.’ (Case 13, man)[Who had main responsibility for spending on children?]: ‘Me …Me I would think really … I think because the mother tends tobe a bit more with it …’ (Case 9, woman) Presentation title, edit in May 26, 2011 header and footer (view menu)
  13. 13. Evidence from other qualitativeresearch Women are ‘shock absorbers’ of poverty (Lister, in WBG, 2006) Women tend to manage household budget in low-income families (source of stress, not power) (Goode et al, 1998) Budgeting can involve ‘juggling’ payments and bills (IPPR) Women responsible for ensuring children’s needs met (Warburton Brown, 2011); Rake and Jayalatika, 2002) Women also more likely to be responsible for managing household debts (research cited in WBG, 2006) Presentation title, edit in May 26, 2011 header and footer (view menu)
  14. 14. Gender implications for welfare reform Daily/weekly items are easier to cut with financial pressures, so monthly payment of universal credit would have more impact on women Income likely to change more rapidly from month to month (+ more localised discretionary extras): harder to budget Payment all in one gives less space for juggling budget Payment all in one gives financial power to one partner Payment not labelled as money for children: less likely to be spent on them? (with consequences for women) Presentation title, edit in May 26, 2011 header and footer (view menu)
  15. 15. Discussion: reflections on policyinfluencing Involvement to date has included:- Assistance with preliminary gender assessment of consultation document on welfare reform (by Janet Veitch, for Oxfam)- Help with evidence for Fawcett Society judicial review of gov- ernment for not doing gender impact assessment of Budget- Women’s Budget Group: briefings, meetings and seminar for civil servants; evidence to Public Bill Committee- Written evidence to Work and Pensions Select Committee Presentation title, edit in May 26, 2011 header and footer (view menu)
  16. 16. Obstacles to influencing:- government had clear idea of objectives and favoured system- financial constraints (government response to credit crunch etc)- administrative imperative – but failure to learn from experience of previous systems (e.g. importance of financial security)- officials’ lack of knowledge of lives of low-income families- our research not framed around policy makers’ concerns/plans + couples interviewed not matching relevant demographic Presentation title, edit in May 26, 2011 header and footer (view menu)
  17. 17. Assumptions apparently being made in policy making:- ‘you can’t (and shouldn’t) affect how families deal with money’- but research shows who gets income can influence how used- ‘different households budget and handle their finances in different ways’; but research shows common gendered patterns in doing so - and policy already intervenes in this- ‘joint accounts mean it doesn’t matter who gets the income’- symbol of togetherness, yes; but don’t guarantee equal access Presentation title, edit in May 26, 2011 header and footer (view menu)
  18. 18. Despite danger of undermining government’s own aims: Worse incentives for ‘2nd earners’ could work against:- aims of individualised conditionality for partners- government support for shared parenting- maternity provisions helping women with rights to return- reduction of workless households and tackling child poverty in the longer term (e.g. if couples with only one earner separate)- ‘All or nothing’ universal credit may work against goal of encouraging committed couples (because of greater risk)- (eg) for virtually all women in one small study, ‘the security of some financial independence was described ... as providing the necessary security for the relationship to flourish’ (Lewis, 2006) Presentation title, edit in May 26, 2011 header and footer (view menu)
  19. 19. Conclusions: value of qualitativeresearch Government proposals on universal credit have been much influenced by (particular form of) economic modelling; participation tax rates, incentives, dynamic effects seen as key But many other factors are important in real lives:- e.g. how systems work in ‘real time’; how households operate as financial units; and how money has social meaning: ‘... the significance of the source of income, its recipient, and the way it is “labelled”, for shaping both perceptions and allocation of financial resources’ (Goode et al, 1999: 11) Models may assume economic rationality + equal sharing etc - qualitative research explores significant roles, relationships Presentation title, edit in May 26, 2011 header and footer (view menu)
  20. 20. Proposals for universal credit also very influenced byideology (unitary view of family + equal sharing/malebreadwinner household): uses out-of-date model of householdsand concern about ‘dependency’ on state, not within familiesBut how best to deliver welfare to all within household and takeaccount of social meanings of money?Government has undertaken to monitor distribution ofincome within household under universal creditKey: how to combine qualitative with other forms of research?(eg to untangle necessary simplifications of economic models?) Presentation title, edit in May 26, 2011 header and footer (view menu)
  21. 21. Conclusions: essential components ofgender analysis of welfare reform Gender impact assessment of Welfare Reform Bill examined effects on single men and women - and on couples We argue proposals should be judged not only on number of men and women affected and amounts involved, but also:- make-up + labelling of payments changing balance of resour- ces between women/men + impact on roles and relationships- effects on autonomy and financial security of men and women; on their caring responsibilities; and on inequalities within the household, at point of change and over lifetime These principles were cited by government in equality impact assessment of White Paper - but not fully taken on board Presentation title, edit in May 26, 2011 header and footer (view menu)
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