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Poverty and insecurityLife in low-pay, no-pay Britain$
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Tracy Shildrick, Robert MacDonald, and Colin Webster

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9781847429117

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847429117.001.0001

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Poverty and social insecurity

Poverty and social insecurity

(p.167) 9 Poverty and social insecurity
Poverty and insecurity

Tracy Shildrick

Robert MacDonald

Colin Webster

Kayleigh Garthwaite

Policy Press

This chapter examines the consequences of long-term labour market insecurity and recurrent returns to unemployment. Informants rejected the label of ‘poverty’, distancing themselves from its negative connotations which, in their minds too, spoke of the stigma and shame of the ‘undeserving poor’. Unlike ‘them’, our interviewees professed their ability to ‘manage’ in tight circumstances. Some interviewees were experiencing ‘deep poverty’ – unable to heat their homes or clothe and feed themselves adequately. Debt was widespread and served to entrench poverty and the benefits system failed to provide ‘social security’. Antipathy to making benefit claims coupled with the complexity, difficulty and high transaction costs of repeated moves from work to welfare served as a strong disincentive to rely on benefits. Stigmatised by officials, misinformed and disempowered, the process of claiming often meant there was a gap between losing work income and receiving benefits, which given the regularity with which jobs ended and benefits eventually began, recurred again and again. Because people often preferred or felt it simpler not to register as unemployed, and because the short-term, irregularly unemployed were not well-served by welfare to work agencies, informants to the study might be described as ‘the missing workless’.

Keywords:   Poverty, Hardship, Benefits, Debt, The missing workless

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