Incapacity benefits research: new publications

I’m delighted that a couple of new publications from this project about incapacity benefits across the twentieth century have appeared recently.  You can find full details of these articles and how to access them on the publications page – link here

Gulland, J., 2017. Working while incapable to work?  Changing concepts of permitted work in the UK disability benefit system. Disability Studies Quarterly 37. 

How can a person be ‘incapable of work’ but at the same time ‘working’? This article discusses how the idea of ‘permitted work’ evolved in the UK social security system.  In the early twentieth century people were allowed to do small amounts of ‘trivial’ work while still claiming benefits.  This changed with the two World Wars leading to more formal ways in which disabled people could be allowed to do ‘therapeutic work’ and still claim benefits. The law was complicated and people sometimes appealed when they were told that the work they were doing was not therapeutic.  The appeal decisions helped to define what people could or couldn’t do.  In the late twentieth century social security policy changed so that people claiming disability benefits were expected to do as much as possible to return to work.  The rules under Employment and Support Allowance today mean that many people must make attempts to find work or risk losing their benefits.  But there are still strict rules about how much work you can do while still claiming.  There are still complicated permitted work rules.  That is changing with the introduction of the controversial Universal Credit but there are still risks for people who need to prove that they are ‘disabled enough’ to qualify for benefit but can also work.  This article traces the changes in legislation and interpretation through appeal decisions from 1911 until today.
I’ve also written about some of these issues on the blog here
This article is part of a special themed issue in the Disability Studies Quarterly on ‘Disability, Work And Representation: New Perspectives’  . Read more here

Gulland, J., 2017. All under one umbrella? The Family Guide to National Insurance 1948. Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly 68, 259–270.

This article tells the story of the ‘Family Guide to National Insurance’ which I found unexpectedly in an archive while looking for something else. The Guide was published in 1948 and was intended to inform the public about their rights and responsibilities under the new National Insurance scheme.  But the story of the Guide is more complicated than that. When I first saw the Guide I noticed the owls – and I wrote about this on the blog here

Family Guide 1948 ‘making a claim’

The pictures struck me as quirky, but rather patronising. I tried to find out more about them but couldn’t find any trace of the artist or who decided to include them.  But I did find a survey, carried out in 1948 to find out what the public thought of the leaflet.  There was no mention of the owls in the survey but there was a lot of interesting material about what people thought.  Mainly, people didn’t read the booklet or didn’t understand what it was about.  I wondered why a booklet with these kinds of pictures seemed to everyone else to be just a boring government leaflet.  I took part in a conference presentation where we had to make a model about our research. I wrote about the conference on the blog here.  My model was a mock up of the leaflet, complete with a boring cover and a pop-up owl

Model of Family Guide Jackie Gulland

Pop-up owl Jackie Gulland

The article in the Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly tells the story of how I used this model to think about the meaning of the Family Guide to National Insurance.  This article is part of a special issue on using models to think about socio-legal research – read more about other people’s explorations with legal model making here

 

 

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