Friday, 21 December 2012

Not blaming the poor

The myths about skivers and scroungers seem to have become so embedded in national consciousness that it is refreshing to see some honest and objective research attack the widespread misconceptions, as recently published by the esteemed Joseph Rowntree Foundation.  There's also no research from the right-inclined policy research bodies which supports the idea that people are choosing to have to survive on benefits.

This issue is becoming a central political theme and is of huge importance for the type of country we will be living in.  As another Neil said, "I warn you not to be ordinary. I warn you not to be young. I warn you not to fall ill. I warn you not to get old".
Are ‘cultures of  worklessness’ passed down the generations?

This study investigates the idea of ‘intergenerational cultures of worklessness’ and if there are families where ‘three generations have never worked’. It is based on research with families living in deprived neighbourhoods in Glasgow and Middlesbrough.

Key points
  • The idea of ‘three generations of the same family who have never worked’ appeals to many,including politicians and policy-makers, as an explanation of entrenched worklessness in the UK.
  • Despite strenuous efforts, the researchers were unable to locate any such families. Even two generations of complete worklessness in the same family was a very rare phenomenon, which is consistent with recent quantitative surveys of this issue.
  • Families experiencing long-term worklessness remained committed to the value of work and preferred to be in jobs rather than on benefits.
  • There was no evidence of ‘a culture of worklessness’ – values, attitudes and behaviours discouraging employment and encouraging welfare dependency – in the families.
  • Workless parents were keen for their children to do better than they had, and actively tried to help them find jobs. Working-age offspring remained strongly committed to conventional values about work as part of a normal transition to adulthood. They were keen to avoid the poverty, worklessness and other problems experienced by their parents. 
  • The long-term worklessness of parents in these families was a result of the impact of complex, multiple problems associated with living in deep poverty over years.
  • Policy-makers and politicians need to abandon theories – and resulting policies – that see worklessness as primarily the outcome of a culture of worklessness, held in families and passed down the generations.
More details here

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