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Localism and poverty in the United Kingdom: the case of Local Welfare Assistance

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2012
JournalPolicy Studies
Journal number4
Volume33
Number of pages17
Pages349-365
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article focuses on the UK’s Coalition Government’s plans to abolish the
discretionary Social Fund and replace it, at least in part, with Local Welfare
Assistance (LWA). The article examines this proposal by locating LWA in debates
about localism, the idea of which in policy terms unites the two political parties
that make up the Coalition government. The article explores the Coalition
government’s approach to localism and debates about it, and related issues
concerning autonomy, freedom and democracy. It then goes on to examine the
reasons for the abolition of the discretionary Social Fund and the Coalition
government’s plans for LWA. The article notes that LWA is framed by a discourse
related to the Coalition government’s view of the importance of localised
solutions to entrenched economic and social problems. However, it is argued,
that in the case of ‘exceptional expenses’ provision, localism is equally, if not
more, problematic than the Social Fund administered by central government.
This is because the most problematic aspects of the Social Fund are to continue
when LWA is introduced and these problems will be augmented by the difficulties
that local politics bring to the relief of poverty. The article concludes that while
it is difficult to differentiate whether the Coalition government is planning to
localise ‘exceptional expenses’ support because of ideology or pragmatism, such a move is likely to have a detrimental impact on income poor people.