Using candidacy theory to explore unemployed over-50s perceptions of suitability of a welfare to work programme: a longitudinal qualitative study

Neary, J. , Katikireddi, S. V. , McQuaid, R. W., Macdonald, E. B. and Thomson, H. (2020) Using candidacy theory to explore unemployed over-50s perceptions of suitability of a welfare to work programme: a longitudinal qualitative study. Social Policy and Administration, (doi: 10.1111/spol.12644) (Early Online Publication)

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Abstract

Welfare to work interventions seek to move out‐of‐work individuals from claiming unemployment benefits towards paid work. However, previous research has highlighted that for over‐50s, particularly those with chronic health conditions, participation in such activities are less likely to result in a return to work. Using longitudinal semi‐structured interviews, we followed 26 over‐50s during their experience of a mandated welfare to work intervention (the Work Programme) in the United Kingdom. Focusing on their perception of suitability, we utilise and adapt Candidacy Theory to explore how previous experiences of work, health, and interaction with staff (both in the intervention, and with healthcare practitioners) influence these perceptions. Despite many participants acknowledging the benefit of work, many described a pessimism regarding their own ability to return to work in the future, and therefore their lack of suitability for this intervention. This was particularly felt by those with chronic health conditions, who reflected on difficulties with managing their conditions (e.g., attending appointments, adhering to treatment regimens). By adapting Candidacy Theory, we highlighted the ways that mandatory intervention was navigated by all the participants, and how some discussed attempts to remove themselves from this intervention. We also discuss the role played by decision makers such as employment‐support staff and healthcare practitioners in supporting or contesting these feelings. Findings suggest that greater effort is required by policy makers to understand the lived experience of chronic illness in terms of ability to RTW, and the importance of inter‐agency work in shaping perceptions of those involved.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Early Online Publication
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Thomson, Dr Hilary and Katikireddi, Professor Vittal and MacDonald, Professor Ewan and Neary, Dr Joanne
Authors: Neary, J., Katikireddi, S. V., McQuaid, R. W., Macdonald, E. B., and Thomson, H.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Public Health
College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
Journal Name:Social Policy and Administration
Publisher:Wiley
ISSN:0144-5596
ISSN (Online):1467-9515
Published Online:12 August 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Social Policy and Administration 2020
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
190736Supporting Older people into Employment (SOPIE): identitying factors influencing return to work in the over 50sEwan MacDonaldMedical Research Council (MRC)MR/L006367/1HW - Public Health
727651SPHSU Core Renewal: Measuring and Analysing Socioeconomic Inequalities in Health Research ProgrammeAlastair LeylandMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/13IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
727671SPHSU Core Renewal: Informing Healthy Public Policy Research ProgrammePeter CraigMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/15IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
Chief Scientist Office (CSO)SPHSU13
Chief Scientist Office (CSO)SPHSU15
172690Understanding the impacts of welfare policy on health: A novel data linkage studySrinivasa KatikireddiChief Scientist Office (CSO)SCAF/15/02HW - Public Health