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Govt research: cutting benefits of “problem families” won’t work


1:13 pm - August 15th 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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The Conservatives propose that local authorities should take away the welfare benefits (if being claimed) of people who were involved in the rioting.

It’s a knee-jerk reaction obviously, but does evidence support the claim that it will only make things worse?

Yes it does.

A few years ago, the Communities and Local Government department looked into efforts to deal with people accused of ‘anti-social behaviour’ (hat-tip @chrisgurr)

The finished report looked into pioneering projects for families put at risk of losing their homes as a result of anti-social behaviour.

In strikingly similar parallels, the research noted that the biggest complaints were around ‘youth nuisance’. Would such penalties change their behaviour, it was asked.

The answer was a resounding no.

The research found that the long-term impact of such penalties did little to reduce costs associated with ASB (anti-social behaviour).

Instead, the research notes, working with families to reduce anti-social behaviour and ‘youth nuisance’ was much more effective and reduced costs.

Potential costs prevented in the short-term include those associated with tenancy termination, the costs of foster care or residential care for children, and costs relating to criminal justice (such as those of being in a young offenders’ institute). Costs due to ASB and domestic violence will also be reduced.

A family evicted for ASB with three or four children requiring custodial care, residential care and foster care can easily cost the Exchequer £250,000 – £330,000 in a year (Ward et al; 2004).

Longer-term costs include those of social exclusion and of not having appropriate skills or qualifications for regular employment with reasonable earnings, leading to a lifetime of benefit dependency.

The research also concluded that their pilot project to pro-actively deal with ASB (rather than simply take away benefits) would have an impact on expenditure by other government services (eg the NHS, education).

…these costs are also expected to be considerably less than the subsequent costs of not addressing these problems.

Perhaps the government should listen to evidence based policy than knee-jerk reactionaries.

Update: A petition has also been launched by @samambreen on the e-petitions site titled: Homelessness – Not in my name. Sign it!

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


Evidence based policy from the tories? Don’t make such absurd suggestions.

2. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

It’s not supposed to ‘work’ it’s supposed to sate their lust for vengeance.

The problem here Sunny is you are committing the most wicked sin of all. The sin of suggesting that we try to understand the problems and not just condemn and attack the people doing the crimes. How can the rest of us expect to carrying on with our ‘two minutes hate’ whilst people like you are wittering on about actually looking the underlying causes? That would imply that we were actually interested in improving society, rather than merely punishing those who happen to find themselves at the bottom of the heap.

Evicting people out of homes is not supposed to ‘work’, it is supposed to punish the enemy. You wrote about how the ‘Tea Party’ won the debate on the debt ceiling being raised by showing that they were willing to destroy America in the process and that Obama’s failure to be able to go ‘all in’ may be his undoing.

That is the problem we will always have. The Right are always be willing to destroy these communities and the Left will always have to compromise. A bit like the guy in the pub who is looking to start a fight over a spilled drink. Huge evictions will leave our society in turmoil and cause untold damage. We know that, but this isn’t about ‘solving’ problems, this is about using an opportunity to use public indignation to implement a vicious policy. These people are not concerned with ‘evidence’, they are concerned about ideology.

The government making ad hoc decisions to punish rioters by withdrawing their benefits is quite wrong.

Once that principle has been conceded that the rule of law and the judicial system can be subverted by the whim of government, we are all in very real danger.

So now David Cameron’s answer is ” Starve Them “. I thought that Courts and Prison are the answer to punishing people.

If David Cameron’s anwser is to ” Starve Them ” then this, really is the Coalition of Evil and Misery without doubt.

What type of society deliberately starves their citizens as a punishment.

@5

What type of society deliberately starves their citizens as a punishment.

One that also encourages parents to shop their children.

Now there’s an interesting thought, if an unemployed mother in a council house shops her son as one of the rioters, does she too get turfed out?

Firstly, Pagar @4 is spot-on!
– his point is really serious and not to be underestimated.

Beyond that, evictions from the Borough would deserve to be challenged on various additional grounds.

e.g. withdrawal of benefits, I presume, would have to include ALL benefits of being a member of a community.
So, say, if a couple are in their early 40s and have bought their own home, and their teenage son/daughter is revealed to have been involved in even a small way with the looting, then the family may be evicted from the Borough where they live? What would happen to the house they own?
Surely this would be seen as an extremely strong (over-)reaction to want to punish people in this way … even though I understand that they are consumers of local services such as street lighting, highways maintenance, local education, libraries, parks, rubbish collection etc … and as citizens they have a civic responsibility to not loot their own community, or to aid and abet looting, or to harbour a looter.
Nonetheless, eviction from the Borough would be way too draconian, in my opinion.

Of course the clear implication of throwing out a tenant from hr home if her child is charged with an offence is that bad parenting is responsible for a bad child.

Now what about the person who happens to own their own home and the child STILL goes of the rails? What about this ‘millionaires’ daughter, for example?

Given that ‘we’ believe that bad parents mean bad children, should we confiscate the assets of that family on the basis that they were making so much money that they were clearly neglecting their child? I mean is it such a leap of logic? We could sell the house and the cars, most of the contents of that house and sequestrate a good chunk of the bank account of this feckless family and use it as reparations? Send out a clear message that your children are your responsibility and you neglect them at your pearl.

Any objections from the screaming Right? If so, why?

Cylux@6

In all probabilities parents that report their children for Rioting would have probably reported them because they did not agree with rioting and were strongly against.

A bit like if you knew that a relative or your child had commited a serious crime you would report it.

In many cases it may work the other way and parents/relatives may not report someone for rioting because of the fear that they may be on the streets/starve.

Where is the evidence that it would be the case, either way ?

@9 I’m not entirely sure what you’re asking there. Evidence toward what, exactly?

What exactly does IDS think will happen when “problem families” get cut off from their “entitlements”?

They resort to crime and get locked up at a cost to taxpayers of £45,000 a year, perhaps?

That doesn’t seem too smart a move to me. Digging away on the internet, I came across this aged news report from 1996 about a Cambridge Uni study about how crime runs in families:

Crime really does run in the family, according to the findings of a 35-year-long study.

Researchers at Cambridge University’s Institute of Criminology found that if children had a convicted parent by the time they were 10 that was the “best predictor” of them becoming criminal and anti- social themselves.

Half of all convictions notched up by those in the study were accounted for by 6 per cent of the families while 10 per cent of the families involved accounted for nearly two-thirds of all convictions. [February 1996]
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/children-follow-convicted-parents-into-crime-1321272.html

So… we give them more benefits… as a bit of a reward and placation so they (hopefully) won’t commit further crimes…

Or… we give them less benefits… as a bit of a punishment and deterrent so they (hopefully) won’t commit further crimes…

No-win situation…

The one sure conclusion is that IDS is a dumbo – but then his leadership debacle led some to that insight years ago.

IDS needs to urgently seek advice from his special adviser, Philipa Stroud, a failed Conservative candidate in a local constituency at the general election last year. She believes in exorcism to cure gays from their affliction:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/may/02/conservatives-philippa-stroud-gay-cure

At the time of the election, I wondered whether the Conservatives were up to creating a National Exorcism Service if elected to government. Possibly, that is the most effective remedy for the looters and arsonists as well after they have served their sentences.

Btw a greatly disturbing item in today’s news: Homosexual zebra finches form long-term bond
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/14479670

Exorcism for birds as well – or just stoning?

speaking from personal experience, benefits ain’t much of an incetive for criminality, if they were, I would have used them as leverage. (survival money)
criminality at the level of sink estates is rarely more than what the scum @top decide! coz they hire the crims as their own security! (poachers as gamekeepers, sic) gated communities are full of psychopaths, they have just leally avoided criminality!
Burgulries (& now looting) violate ur personal space, NOT an insurance broker’s profit, or a rich scumbag’s *stolen/acumulated from u* assets….

There will be a lot of households evicted and left with zero income if this goes through. Some people seem to think “taking all benefits away” just means the mollycoddling bit they hear about the Daily Mail stops and they lose the satellite TV and climbing frame. No. If they’re unemployed, they lose their food and the roof over their head. They will have to beg or steal to eat every day of their lives from then on. It will generate a significant crimewave. They will never get a job because you can’t realistically get a job if you don’t live anywhere, and you can’t live anywhere if you can’t pay rent.

If there’s a family involved, it will have to be broken up and the children separated from their parents to be taken into care, ruining their lives forever whether they personally were among the rioters or not. The vengeful advocates of this punishment seem to forget some of these rioters aren’t 16 and inevitably some will have children themselves.

@ 15

“The vengeful advocates of this punishment seem to forget some of these rioters aren’t 16 and inevitably some will have children themselves.”

Oh they haven’t forgotten this at all. In fact they’re wanking furiously at the thought of any such children being taken into care where they can be given strict moral guidance.

Sick bastards.

17. Name Required

What’s next witholding food deliveries from whole postcodes to punish them for any unrest in their areas?


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    Govt research shows that cutting benefits of "problem families" doesn't work and costs us more http://t.co/GHmiJlN (from earlier)

  127. Michelle McKenna

    Govt research shows that cutting benefits of "problem families" doesn't work and costs us more http://t.co/GHmiJlN (from earlier)

  128. Jack England

    Govt research shows that cutting benefits of "problem families" doesn't work and costs us more http://t.co/GHmiJlN (from earlier)

  129. Paul Wood

    Govt research shows that cutting benefits of "problem families" doesn't work and costs us more http://t.co/GHmiJlN (from earlier)

  130. Hilarie McMurray

    Govt research shows that cutting benefits of "problem families" doesn't work and costs us more http://t.co/GHmiJlN (from earlier)

  131. Ed Brown

    Govt research shows that cutting benefits of "problem families" doesn't work and costs us more http://t.co/GHmiJlN (from earlier)

  132. Robin Green

    Govt research shows cutting benefits of "problem families" doesn't work http://t.co/3Ps2v9r

  133. Justin B

    Govt research shows that cutting benefits of "problem families" doesn't work and costs us more http://t.co/GHmiJlN (from earlier)

  134. Venus Mist

    Govt research shows that cutting benefits of "problem families" doesn't work and costs us more http://t.co/GHmiJlN (from earlier)

  135. Alastair Gordon

    Govt research shows that cutting benefits of "problem families" doesn't work and costs us more http://t.co/GHmiJlN (from earlier)

  136. Tørris Rasmussen

    Govt research shows that cutting benefits of "problem families" doesn't work and costs us more http://t.co/GHmiJlN (from earlier)

  137. J. Gunner

    Govt research shows that cutting benefits of "problem families" doesn't work and costs us more http://t.co/GHmiJlN (from earlier)

  138. Paul Nezandonyi

    RT @libcon: Govt research shows cutting benefits of "problem families" doesn't work http://t.co/LU5WI2b #kneejerk

  139. Christian J Wilcox

    Why cutting the Benefits of looters will not work: http://t.co/EmR1s7c . It'll cost more in the long run. ( @CroydonLabour @GavinBarwellMP

  140. Jon Archer

    RT @sunny_hundal – Govt research shows that cutting benefits of "problem families" doesn't work and costs us more http://t.co/ynLQ6f6

  141. double2

    Govt research shows that cutting benefits of "problem families" doesn't work and costs us more http://t.co/GHmiJlN (from earlier)

  142. Katherine

    RT @sunny_hundal Govt research shows that cutting benefits of "problem families" doesn't work and costs us more http://t.co/RFLwBqA

  143. Virginia Moffatt

    Must read: Govt research shows that cutting benefits of "problem families" doesn't work http://t.co/GHmiJlN

  144. Virginia Moffatt

    What the government's own research says about cutting benefits for those convicted of crimes: http://t.co/4Kg9ohK

  145. sunny hundal

    @jeremycorbyn and on top of that, govt research shows such punitive measures actually end up costing more http://t.co/GHmiJlN

  146. Sue Davies

    @jeremycorbyn and on top of that, govt research shows such punitive measures actually end up costing more http://t.co/GHmiJlN

  147. AssedBaig

    @jeremycorbyn and on top of that, govt research shows such punitive measures actually end up costing more http://t.co/GHmiJlN

  148. Clare Jordan

    @jeremycorbyn and on top of that, govt research shows such punitive measures actually end up costing more http://t.co/GHmiJlN

  149. Stephe Meloy

    RT @libcon: Govt research shows cutting benefits of "problem families" doesn't work http://t.co/LU5WI2b #kneejerk

  150. Jim Elliott

    Govt research shows that cutting benefits of "problem families" doesn't work and costs us more http://t.co/GHmiJlN (from earlier)

  151. Stephe Meloy

    Govt research shows that cutting benefits of "problem families" doesn't work and costs us more http://t.co/GHmiJlN (from earlier)

  152. cross bloke

    RT @sunny_hundal: Must read: Govt research shows that cutting benefits of "problem families" doesn't work http://t.co/VLabXlg #ukriots

  153. Andy Gimblett

    Govt research shows cutting benefits of "problem families" doesn't work http://t.co/3Ps2v9r

  154. Charmian Rebello

    RT @PaulNez: RT @libcon: Govt research shows cutting benefits of "problem families" doesn't work http://t.co/RlXf97Y #kneejerk

  155. Maps Man

    Govt research shows that cutting benefits of "problem families" doesn't work and costs us more http://t.co/GHmiJlN (from earlier)

  156. Think Left

    Govt research: cutting benefits of “problem families” won’t work | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/crAQfer via @libcon SIGN PETITION!

  157. Think Left

    RT @libcon: Govt research: cutting benefits of "problem families" won't work http://t.co/YZVKojp

  158. Pam

    RT @libcon: Govt research: cutting benefits of "problem families" won't work http://t.co/X7F4vcq

  159. Julie Lewis

    RT @libcon: Govt research: cutting benefits of "problem families" won't work http://t.co/3i9HTm1

  160. Pam

    Govt research: cutting benefits of “problem families” won’t work | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/crAQfer via @libcon SIGN PETITION!

  161. Nathaniel Mathews

    School of the bleeding obvious RT @libcon: Govt research: cutting benefits of "problem families" won't work http://t.co/uQmujrs

  162. sunny hundal

    The govt's own research (I cited earlier) shows evicting 'problem families' for bad behaviour only worsens crime http://t.co/GHmiJlN

  163. David Wilkinson

    The govt's own research (I cited earlier) shows evicting 'problem families' for bad behaviour only worsens crime http://t.co/GHmiJlN

  164. Len Duvall

    The govt's own research (I cited earlier) shows evicting 'problem families' for bad behaviour only worsens crime http://t.co/GHmiJlN

  165. Will Porter

    The govt's own research (I cited earlier) shows evicting 'problem families' for bad behaviour only worsens crime http://t.co/GHmiJlN

  166. Sander Faas (Faaz)

    The govt's own research (I cited earlier) shows evicting 'problem families' for bad behaviour only worsens crime http://t.co/GHmiJlN

  167. Sander Faas (Faaz)

    The govt's own research (I cited earlier) shows evicting 'problem families' for bad behaviour only worsens crime http://t.co/GHmiJlN

  168. Terry

    Govt research: cutting benefits of “problem families” won’t work | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/vBqLPNp via @libcon

  169. Terry

    Govt research: cutting benefits of “problem families” won’t work | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/vBqLPNp via @libcon

  170. Justin B

    RT @sunny_hundal: The govt's own research shows evicting 'problem families' for bad behaviour only worsens crime http://t.co/I8tmb4b

  171. Greg M

    The govt's own research (I cited earlier) shows evicting 'problem families' for bad behaviour only worsens crime http://t.co/GHmiJlN

  172. Willie Sullivan

    The govt's own research (I cited earlier) shows evicting 'problem families' for bad behaviour only worsens crime http://t.co/GHmiJlN

  173. Andy Bean

    Govt research: cutting benefits of “problem families” won’t work | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/s78DYaN via @libcon

  174. James Doran

    The govt's own research (I cited earlier) shows evicting 'problem families' for bad behaviour only worsens crime http://t.co/GHmiJlN

  175. sunny hundal

    @rowenna_davis here is the research regarding evictions http://t.co/GHmiJlN

  176. Maria Higgins

    @rowenna_davis here is the research regarding evictions http://t.co/GHmiJlN

  177. Rocki Stone

    @rowenna_davis here is the research regarding evictions http://t.co/GHmiJlN

  178. Jon Clempner

    The govt's own research (I cited earlier) shows evicting 'problem families' for bad behaviour only worsens crime http://t.co/GHmiJlN

  179. Sam Ambreen

    The govt's own research (I cited earlier) shows evicting 'problem families' for bad behaviour only worsens crime http://t.co/GHmiJlN

  180. Owen Blacker

    The govt's own research (I cited earlier) shows evicting 'problem families' for bad behaviour only worsens crime http://t.co/GHmiJlN

  181. Andrew Harrison

    The govt's own research (I cited earlier) shows evicting 'problem families' for bad behaviour only worsens crime http://t.co/GHmiJlN

  182. Paul Leake

    The govt's own research (I cited earlier) shows evicting 'problem families' for bad behaviour only worsens crime http://t.co/GHmiJlN

  183. Frann Leach

    The govt's own research (I cited earlier) shows evicting 'problem families' for bad behaviour only worsens crime http://t.co/GHmiJlN

  184. sunny hundal

    @rowennadavis here is the study again http://t.co/JDwW7MM – hope that works! I've summarised it there

  185. Labour’s Andy Slaughter against evicting riot families | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] also published a report backing up Slaughter’s point – that it actually makes things worse for crime and social […]

  186. Protest today as Southwark accused of supporting Tories on evictions | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] by the government’s communities department a few years ago found that evicting ‘problem families’ from their homes only increased crime and anti-social behaviour in an […]

  187. Syma

    Must read: Govt research shows that cutting benefits of "problem families" doesn't work http://t.co/GHmiJlN





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