Public Seminar: 21st Century welfare and the working poor

Image sourced from Flickr by Kat Grigg
Thursday 16 February 2017

5.30 - 7.00pm, Innovations Theatre
Level 1, Anthony Lowe Building, 124 Eggleston Road, ANU
Keynote speaker: Professor Jane Millar - University of Bath, UK

Ensuring adequate incomes for poor working families is a key policy challenge in many countries. The growth of low-paid and part-time work, sometimes in circumstances of unstable or temporary employment, has increased inequalities in work and means that for many people wages alone are not enough to keep the family at an adequate standard of living. This is particularly true if there is only one potential earner in the family, and so in many countries it is lone mothers and couples with pre-school age children who are particularly likely to face financial hardship.

The development of in-work wage supplements has been an important policy response, and in the UK chosen route has included the extension of a system of means-tested ‘tax credits’, intended not only to support people to move into employment but also to help to sustain work, and even to progress within work to higher wages or longer work hours. Policy attention is therefore increasingly focussed not just on what is needed to help non-employed people get jobs, but also on what helps people who have jobs to keep them and improve their situations in work. This lecture will explore these issues drawing on an in-depth study of 15 British families, over a period of about 15 years. This is a unique data set. Survey panel data is able to map employment trajectories and analyse the risk factors associated with different patterns and outcomes. Our qualitative research complements this by providing insights into motivations, attitudes and choices, exploring how people respond to changes, opportunities and constraints. The lecture will set this material in the wider policy context, in the UK and other countries, and explore the ongoing tensions between austerity and social investment.

More details and Jane’s powerpoint available to download here.

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