The Conservative/Liberal Coalition government’s policy and rhetoric favoured individual explanations for poverty, portraying poor parents as making bad spending decisions, and transmitting their attitudes and behaviours on to their children.
This article draws on the 2012 UK Poverty and Social Exclusion survey (PSE2012) to examine how far the realities of life for poor children match these explanations.
The Welfare Reform Act 2012 is pivotal in that it provides the muscle for disciplining claimants for a low-waged, flexible labour market.
But the Northern Ireland Assembly has not passed the Act or agreed a budget and the return of Direct Rule beckons as a result.
This introductory article draws upon Bacchi’s ‘what is the problem represented to be’ (‘WPR’) approach to examine the ways in which poverty was problematised by the Conservative–Liberal Democrat Coalition government (2010–15).
It argues that this problematisation silenced structural processes associated with the government’s commitment to neo-liberalism, resulting in devastating, socially harmful consequences.The article sheds light on the stand-off over the Welfare Reform Act using data from the 2012 PSE Survey.It demonstrates that the impact of violent conflict is imprinted on the population in terms of high rates of deprivation, poor physical and mental health, and significant differences between those experiencing little or no conflict, and those with ‘high’ experience.Using data from the Poverty and Social Exclusion UK survey, results show that one in three adults in paid work is in poverty, or in insecure or poor quality employment.One third of this group have not seen any progression in their labour market situation in the last five years.The policy focus needs to shift from ‘Broken Britain’ to Britain’s broken labour market.Discourses around poverty, dependency and austerity take a particular form regarding Northern Ireland which is seen as ripe for economic ‘rebalancing’ and public sector reduction.This article introduces this themed issue which challenges government policies and discourses using evidence from the UK 2012 Poverty and Social Exclusion Study.Policies and discourses prioritising the role of individual deficiencies and highlighting the structural problems of the welfare state in poverty causation are nothing new.We critique claims of an association between poor parenting and lone parenthood status using data from the UK Poverty and Social Exclusion (PSE) 2012 survey.We find negligible differences in the parenting behaviours of those living in lone and couple households, and lone parents (who are mainly mothers) actually cut back on their own expenditure to a greater extent than other parents in order to provide for children.