Governance and the excluded citizen: tensions between welfare reform and the wellbeing agenda by Allison Savory


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Presentation by Allison Savoury at Sociology of Mental Health Study Group symposium: What does sociology need to contribute towards or against the wellbeing agenda? on 10 June 2013.

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Governance and the excluded citizen: tensions between welfare reform and the wellbeing agenda by Allison Savory

  1. 1. Governance and the excluded citizen: tensions between welfare reform and the wellbeing agenda. PhD Research Allison Savory BA; MA. 1
  2. 2. Overview: • • • • Well being agenda. Research question and aim. Study’s methodology & data analysis. Interim findings: o Concerns over welfare reform (UC) o Tensions with the wellbeing agenda. o Role and importance of day centres to tenants. 2
  3. 3. Wellbeing agenda: • ‘Politics of happiness’ – policy intervention. • How to measure happiness? • ‘Happy, healthy, capable and engaged’ – the big society? • Section 194 of the health and social care act 2012 makes it a legal requirement for a local authority to establish a health and wellbeing board. 3
  4. 4. Well being for the vulnerable?: • These ‘politics of happiness’ ignore the societal barriers that face some people (Edwards & Imrie; 2008). • ‘In the West, the most miserable group of people are the mentally ill. We know how to help most of them, but only about a quarter of them are currently in treatment.’ (Layard; 2005 p. 231). 4
  5. 5. Research question and aim: • How does the community governance of social housing impact on tenants with mental health problems? • To explore and investigate experiences of contemporary social housing communities. o Housing/mental health professionals. o Mentally impaired social housing tenants. o Communities; by way of community meetings. 5
  6. 6. Legislative Framework: • Housing Acts of 1988, 1996 and 2004. • Crime and Disorder Act 1998 that defined the concept of Anti Social Behaviour legally. o ‘Acting in a manner that caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household as (the defendant).’ Section 1 CDA (1998). • Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 – social housing landlords powers extended. 6
  7. 7. Methodology: • Statistics as a scoping exercise. o Indices of deprivation, crime/ASB, housing and those claiming for a mental disorder. o From this got my areas to focus on; city and suburban. • Qualitative methods: semi structured interview, participant observations. o Housing organisations, mental health teams and day centres in chosen areas. o Community meetings.  So far, I have interviewed; 12 housing officers, 3 mental health professionals, staff at day centres and 4 social housing tenants with mental health problems and participant observations at the day centres. 7
  8. 8. Data Analysis: • Transcriptions of all interviews. • Notes taken from day centre observations. • Contact summary forms for all participants. Then:  Framework analysis; familiarisation and identifying a thematic framework.  Coding.  Mapping and interpreting the data in line with emerging themes. 8
  9. 9. Welfare Reform: • “The benefit system has created a benefit culture. It doesn’t just allow people to act irresponsibly, but often actively encourages them to do so.” David Cameron; 17/02/2011. • Welfare Reform Act 2012 introduces Universal Credit. • Link to Personalisation Agenda? 9
  10. 10. Concerns from housing professionals: • Housing officers in suburban site. “I know the direct payment we get at the moment from housing benefit ... which is about one million a month … is going to stop instantly so we have then got to rely on the individual people to pay us … So they’re going to get a salary, I prefer to call it a salary because we all get the salary and we have to make it last and they have to live like we do”. 10
  11. 11. Concerns from housing professionals (cont): • “A lot of our tenants have the perception ‘I don’t pay rent’, [because housing benefits have paid it for them]. They just say to me they don’t pay rent. I say to them ‘actually you do pay rent out of your money but it’s paid for you and you get what’s left.’ I think the concern is that people will think ‘whoo we got a pay rise but we don’t pay rent’. It’s going to be ‘do we buy Christmas presents in December or do we pay the rent?’ It’s that kind of thing. How much of a priority is rent going to be?” 11
  12. 12. Concerns from housing professionals (cont): • “People can’t budget. It’s hard to budget. Rent arrears are reasonably low at the moment, they’ve done well with that. Obviously, we are worried and us as an organisation, that the rent arrears will go through the roof. 12
  13. 13. Mental health professionals view on UC: • “The vast majority of our clients who receive care don’t contribute [financially] … the ones on benefits won’t be contributing anyway. So from a financial point of view, it makes no difference to us as a provider. For them it is about whether they are and how they will in future manage their funds.” 13
  14. 14. Defining the vulnerable: • Mental Health Professional: “There’s still a definition about a vulnerable person in the sense of housing benefit [being] paid directly to a registered provider but they haven’t really clarified what a vulnerable person is yet so ... [w]e’re waiting for that to come from DWP. [As] a vulnerable adult you can self-nominate to have your housing benefit paid directly. It’s the ones that don’t ... there’s anecdotal evidence about defaulting ...” 14
  15. 15. Definition of a vulnerable adult: • A vulnerable adult is someone aged 18 or over: • Who is, or may be, in need of community services due to age, illness or a mental or physical disability • Who is, or may be, unable to take care of himself/herself, or unable to protect himself/herself against significant harm or exploitation (Definition from the Department of Health 2002) • Legal definition from Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, s59. 15
  16. 16. Suffering in silence? • The ones that fall into the gap; the ones that suffer in silence due to the stigma of being viewed of as having mental health problems. o P1 suburban site: Some people would sympathise and make allowances and other people would shun you for being a looney. 16
  17. 17. Where are the vulnerable tenants? • Housing officers in suburban site. “… there is a section of people who are vulnerable but won’t be affected. But we don’t know who will fall into that category.” • Housing officers in City site – “Supposing this person has gone some lengths to pay their rent all the time they will be sitting in their rooms and nobody will know about it as the money is going in and they are still suffering with the effects of poor mental health”. • Does this mean UC will make vulnerable tenants visible? 17
  18. 18. Social isolation: • P1 from the suburban area; “So yeah, I get in and I lock my door and it’s safe but it’s lonely, it’s a contrast after Friday afternoon [at the day centre]. • Also; “I think it’s because I spend so much time by myself, discussing things like having mental health problems with other people is too personal”. 18
  19. 19. Tackling isolation through therapy: • Layard’s (2005) comments regarding tackling isolation through therapy: • In my research I found the day centres give a form of therapy; o P1 and his music within the centre. o D1 and making of the jewellery. o Focus groups in the city area day centre. 19
  20. 20. Role of a Day Centre: • This is a ray of hope for tenants and a place where the well being agenda is in practice being absorbed into the day to day business. o As P1 states; “I’m in a safe environment here. I know that if everything ... if you did turn out to be a serial killer or something, if anything went wrong I know I’ve got back up. People that would stand behind me and help”. • But; could it be too much of a crutch for the tenants? o “Perhaps that’s one thing I’ve got against [Day Centre], it’s given me false confidence while I’m here.” 20
  21. 21. The importance of day centres in suburban site: • P1: “[Day centre] is my life. It’s enable me to indulge in a lot of my hobbies. I’ve written poems, I’ve done artwork, I play in 2 different bands based [here]”. • D1: “… if I’m coming here I try not to drink as much. I’ll have a drink obviously, but make sure I don’t get too drunk. I did on Monday unfortunately and I came here late and I was still a bit ... I wasn’t drunk but John could see I was a bit drink and he said ‘have you had a drink this morning?’ I said ‘no, no it was from last night cos I watched the football and all that.’ At least I turned up and got here”. 21
  22. 22. The importance of day centres in city site: • “What has made me active in my own recovery was initially, being an alcoholic I was faced with homelessness, no money, no job, no food, I was faced with that. Living rough. There was a motivation for me to do something about that”. He also said “I got the help from the people in AA and the people there encouraged me [in my recovery]”. • “… it [gets] me motivated to get up and out”. 22
  23. 23. Interim Conclusion: • Housing and mental health professionals differ in the ease of getting any tenant access to the services and the effect the new welfare reform will have on the tenants. • Isolation is keenly felt by tenants unless they are active in their own recovery. • Day Centres can be a focus for the wellbeing agenda as it is a place that enables happiness, capability and access to health services. • BUT IS THIS ENOUGH – IS MORE NEEDED TO DO DONE? === YES!! 23
  24. 24. References: • • • • • • • • • • • • Bean, P 2001. Mental Disorder and Community Safety. : Palgrove. Cohen, Stanley. 1972. Folk Devils and Moral Panics. London: MacGibbon and Kee. Edwards, Claire and Rob Imrie. 2008. "Disability and the Implications of the Wellbeing Agenda: Some Reflections from the United Kingdom." Journal of Social Policy 37:337-355. Flint, J. 2006. "Maintaining an Arm’s Length? Housing, Community Governance and the Management of ‘Problematic’ Populations." Housing Studies 21:171-186. —. 2009. "Subversive subjects and conditional, earned and denied citizenship." in Subversive Citizens: Power, Agency and Resistance in Public Services, edited by M. Barnes and D. Prior. Bristol: Policy Press. Giddens, A. 1991. Modernity & Self Identity; Self and society in the late modern age. Cambridge: Polity Press. Layard, R. 2005. Happiness; Lessons form a New Science. New York: Penguin. Parr, Sadie. 2010. "The Role of Social Housing in the 'Care' and 'Control' of Tenants with Mental Health Problems." Social Policy & Society 9:111-122. Pfuhl, Erdwin H. and Stuart Henry. 1993. The Deviance Process; 3rd ed. New York: Walter de Gruyter Inc. Squires, P. 2008. ASBO Nation; The criminalisation of nuisance. . Bristol.: Policy Press. 24
  25. 25. Any comments or questions? 25