New publication – ‘Housing rites: young people’s experience of conditional pathways out of homelessness’

I have a new publication available in Housing Studies. It is the first of the planned articles from my PhD research on the tenancy sustainment practices of formerly homeless young people.


Since devolution, Scotland has been perceived as an international trailblazer in homelessness policy. This is principally due to The Homelessness Etc. (Scotland) Act 2003 which led to the ‘priority need’ category being abolished in 2012, thus placing a statutory duty upon local authorities to provide settled accommodation to nearly all homeless households. This has been widely praised for extending citizenship rights to those experiencing homelessness. In contrast to this, this paper examines the experiences of young people (aged 16–24) where judgements on whether they were ‘housing ready’ delayed them being provided settled accommodation. Drawing on Bourdieu’s writing on rites of institution, it is shown how the symbolic categories deployed by support services and landlords operated as a means of ‘vision and division’, creating new social positions that lengthened the pathway out of homelessness. In a complimentary move, there was a fusion of support with control mechanisms to determine a person’s readiness for settled accommodation.

Unfortunately, the article is behind a paywall. Please give me a shout if you do not have institutional access and want a copy.

Welfare Conditionality final research findings

The final findings papers for the Welfare Conditionality project, that I was a Researcher and NVivo Lead on, have been published today. As covered in The Guardian, Benefit sanctions [were] found to be ineffective and damaging.

From the Guardian article:

Benefit sanctions are ineffective at getting jobless people into work and are more likely to reduce those affected to poverty, ill-health or even survival crime, the UK’s most extensive study of welfare conditionality has found.

The five-year exercise tracking hundreds of claimants concludes that the controversial policy of docking benefits as punishment for alleged failures to comply with jobcentre rules has been little short of disastrous.

“Benefit sanctions do little to enhance people’s motivation to prepare for, seek or enter paid work. They routinely trigger profoundly negative personal, financial, health and behavioural outcomes,” the study concludes.

The Canary has also covered the findings reporting that – The latest news on the DWP has left its reputation in tatters.

From the article:

A groundbreaking study, conducted over five years, has left the reputation and operating practices of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in tatters. Specifically, the report’s authors heap criticism on one part of the department’s operations: the benefit sanctions regime. But a standout point from the report was that the DWP should “cease” applying sanctions to disabled people.

[…] The Welfare Conditionality project (2013-2018) was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. ‘Conditionality’ is the idea that people who receive benefits should have to meet certain requirements, such as applying for jobs, or lose their payments. A ‘sanction’, in this context, means the withdrawal of benefits, normally for a fixed period.

As well as the Overview paper there are separate briefings for the nine policy areas covered in the research