Welfare Conditionality Brexit welfare rights and EU migrants programme highlights web



today is about bringing together two projects that have been working in the university in an interdisciplinary way so sociological Social Policy socio legal work and looking at how or hopefully disseminating some of how those projects have been working and thinking about how we can work together the idea behind this we're very grateful to the ESRC for funding this day it's funded under an impact stream and impact is about recognizing that research can have utility beyond the ivory towers of academia so we commissioned two political scientists Matthew Goodwin and Oliver Heath to do some analysis using the British election study to look at that question of what was the role of poverty place and individual circumstances in explaining that vote to leave the EU so our first significant finding is that income did matter this was a thing about individual characteristics the poorer you are the more likely you were to vote leave education actually mattered most so once you look at the two of them together it really was educational status that was the biggest predictor of how someone would vote the third really key finding from the report is on the importance of place we came up with this idea of essentially being as described in the report of a double whammy of being low-skilled and living in a low-skilled area so people without educational qualifications and skills if they're in the Left Behind areas these places with fewer opportunities and those are characterized by being low skill areas then they also have fewer opportunities because of that and this fed into this feeling of being economically disadvantaged one thing you can maybe draw from this is that if you want to secure migrant rights if you wanted more liberal policies towards migration it perhaps means you need to solve some of these divides to get over that feeling of economic disadvantage and get broader support for that we know that from political scientists resides that P are not so fixed in terms of their preference preferences on the European Union they're much more fixed on their preferences on how they would vote domestically so specific issues and this is how they these were framed in the political campaigns in the run-up to the referendum very unsurprisingly the economy was the most important issue among those who wanted to stay in the European Union now for those that wanted to leave the economy didn't even make 5 percent in actually immigration and sovereignty were much more important so the connection between migration and welfare the connection between migration and the economy and so on and so forth it was that it was portrayed in terms of angle-angle against a threat a perceived threat towards the community by the European Union which is an illegitimate Authority one of the problems of the income plane is that it also frames its campaign negatively in terms of negative emotions which were fear actually fear is something is an emotion that actually instead of mobilizing you makes you stay at home and not do anything about it I'm just going to introduce the wider project which is called sanction welfare conditionality sanction support and behavior change so essentially we're questioning how welfare conditionality works but also whether or not it can be seen as fair and in what kind of circumstances people feel that it's fair in terms of what we're presenting today we're looking at our ongoing work to explore two questions and that is how does welfare compare conditionality impact on the lives of EU migrants resident in the UK and why is conditionality important in understanding the restriction and removal of UK resident EU migrants rights we are arguing that gruffer conditionality today works the disadvantage g-u migrants at three different levels which Peter will talk a little bit about he you citizenship at one level is a conditional promise for those member state nationals who relocate to another member state under the coalition government the UK government was active in implementing negative changes to the rights of EU migrants so we can see that you know this idea that destitution and homelessness does come out of these kinds of rules generally there was inadequate inappropriate mandatory training good support not always but the dominant voice is the training didn't amount to much it didn't help me get a job and what welfare chauvinism amounts to is that particularly in times of economic recession migrants face reduced or resected entitlements to support in comparison to national citizens what we've got today in the UK is a sort of unique what I'm calling a constellation of conditionality a number of things have come together we've got austerity we've had the referendum we've got brexit happening in about half an hour's time we've got this work first conditional well first date and as restrictive national UK immigration and Welfare policies continue to intersect and migrants everyday encounters play out against a backdrop of behavioural conditionality rather pessimistically I think it's likely the EU migrants rights in the future will be further diminished I certainly cannot see them being enhanced I'm very happy to be here to begin to talk about some of the initial findings I've had from my doctoral research I basically interviewed 15 migrants from from Eastern Europe who were in different stages of homelessness some more sleeping rafts and somewhere in temporary accommodation somewhere in incredibly overcrowded conditions etc and what what became very clear to me is that when people are confronted with constrained choice when you don't have the ability to earn wages to support yourself you you then turn to the informal economy either through casual work cash in hand or maybe even illicit activity or you rely on charity or donations or begging some participants in my study we're very clear about having no choice whatsoever what struck me about these interviews was the level of deprivation another thing that struck me with with the interviews is the very low level of expectations people had for intervention from state and state assistants and on the other end of the spectrum some people I spoke with were very adamant about the the amount of choice that they have sleeping rough as being their choice and the in that they're exercising that choice in making sense of this I don't want it to make it sound that people are actually choosing homelessness the way that I'm interpreting them is is the exact lack of choice that people have that people are being made to deprioritize their housing to the point of homelessness I'm sure nobody in this room has the exact answers of how brexit will unfold but you can only imagine that any further restriction on the the ability to work will only further push people into an informal economy greater reliance on cash in hand and and so on and so forth and maybe even creating even more opportunities for exploitation in the labor market is access to the European Social Fund something that local authorities are worried about and I think of specifically local authorities not local enterprise partnerships obviously European plen is a huge issue for them but specifically local authorities in the context of welfare reform is velocity CSF money something they're concerned about and what will happen if access to the European Social Fund and the European now structural investment funds are not replaced and local authorities and other organizations are left without this support a huge bunch of people who might well be affected by welfare reforms and the idea is that this European social for money can be used to support some of those populations who might be particularly affected by universal credit in particular but not just universal credit border problems like homelessness and so on within the current local authority fiscal environment money for welfare support functions is particularly at risk or money to support particularly specialised welfare reform functions is non-existent there's a high any groups are increasingly reliant on local authority support particularly English as a second language assistance and so on as supports remove nationally for that sort of function and finally the pace of change particularly universal credit creates new and unpredictable demands on services offered by local authorities the ESF money is being built in to a what you'd expect local authorities to be doing anyway which is making an awarding discretionary housing payments and European Social Fund money is being tied into this process to help provide extra layers of support which should really be available anyway without recourse to this money but of course local authorities are very little alternative cash to turn to the likelihood is we're looking at 3.3 million people resident in the UK it seems highly unlikely that we're talking about getting rid of everybody so there's going to be a line drawn between who gets to stay and who doesn't and what their rights are going to be and so it could be very very important to be guarding the rights of people to reside over these next few years and making sure that rights up until now are suitably demonstrated so that future claims to permanent residents aren't scuppered sort of in the aims of the project will the aim from the outset were to compare the law in the books to the law in the real world the aims of any sort of socio legal project really doing that through legal action research equal treatment has largely been an illusion particularly since the introduction of the the immigration EEA regs 2006 onwards and the the concept of the right to reside poor decision-making and poor interpretation by decision-makers of key concepts and poor decision-maker guidance that's being issued to them an inaccurate guidance the kind of normalization of delay in the process this tantamount to a refusal without the right of appeal at least if you've had a refusal you can appeal it if you're just waiting and waiting there's nothing you can do what are going to be the practical outcomes of what of the project so far so I've been actively involved in in litigation but also offering litigation support to two organizations representing clients in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in putting into consultations both at European level the Commission and national level the Social Security Advisory Commission and banging in infringement complaints to the European Commission and advising the advising EU migrants talk it and the idea of this is to produce well what were in the process of doing and online toolkits that will help advisors navigate through and explore different possible options but it's really important to be thinking about all of these kinds of ways of asserting and enforcing particular rights especially given that during periods of legal transition the risks to administrative justice are more acute and we are facing the mother of all legal transitions right now and so there is a danger that decision-makers going to be overwhelmed confused reduced capacity and also dealing with very significant very very complex changes and we ought to be making sure that we're keeping holding authorities to account thank you very much [Applause]

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