Risking peace in the ‘War against the Poor’? Social exclusion and the legacies of the Northern Ireland conflict

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Discourses around poverty, dependency and austerity take a particular form when it comes to Northern Ireland which is seen as ripe for economic ‘rebalancing’ and public sector reduction. 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. 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. In ignoring these legacies of the conflict, the Westminster government is risking peace in its ‘war against the poor’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-123
JournalCritical Social Policy
Issue number1
Early online date06 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016



  • benefit sanctions, poverty, violence, welfare reform

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