‘Welfare reform’ is making life even harder for those who rely on benefits, says Ruth Patrick, who spent five years interviewing people about their experience. Her new book For whose benefit? is launched this week. Over recent years, deriding ‘welfare’ and the lives of those who receive it has been a popular past time for prominent politicians. From both left and right, politicians have talked of cultures of welfare dependency, people passively ‘languishing’ on ‘welfare’ and the problem of those who ‘choose’ benefits as a ‘lifestyle choice’. This popular political narrative is reinforced by a media that often seems quick to stigmatise those in receipt of out-of-work benefits as a deficit other: demarcated and found wanting when compared with a lauded ‘hard-working majority’. The notion of ‘welfare’ as inherently and inevitably negative has been employed to justify successive waves of welfare reform. Over the past thirty five years, there has … (To read the full article, subscribe below)

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Ruth Patrick is the author of For Whose Benefit? The Everyday Realities of Welfare Reform