Governance and the excluded citizen: tensions between welfare reform and the wellbeing agenda by Allison Savory
Governance and the excluded
citizen: tensions between welfare
reform and the wellbeing agenda.
Allison Savory BA; MA.
Well being agenda.
Research question and aim.
Study’s methodology & data analysis.
o Concerns over welfare reform (UC)
o Tensions with the wellbeing agenda.
o Role and importance of day centres to tenants.
• ‘Politics of happiness’ – policy intervention.
• How to measure happiness?
• ‘Happy, healthy, capable and engaged’ – the
• 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
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).
Research question and aim:
• How does the community governance of
social housing impact on tenants with mental
• 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.
• 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.
• 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,
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.
• Transcriptions of all interviews.
• Notes taken from day centre observations.
• Contact summary forms for all participants.
Framework analysis; familiarisation and identifying a
Mapping and interpreting the data in line with
• “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
• Link to Personalisation Agenda?
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”.
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?”
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.
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.”
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 ...”
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
• Who is, or may be, unable to take care of
himself/herself against significant harm or
(Definition from the Department of Health 2002)
• Legal definition from Safeguarding Vulnerable
Groups Act 2006, s59.
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.
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
• 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
• 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
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.
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
• 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.”
The importance of day centres in
• 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”.
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”.
• 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!!
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