'A Hand Up, Not a Hand-Out', New Labour and Street Homelessness 1997-2010

Christie, David ORCID: 0009-0008-1794-2359 (2024). 'A Hand Up, Not a Hand-Out', New Labour and Street Homelessness 1997-2010. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This research examines the impact of the New Labour government on street homelessness across their three terms of office from 1997 to 2010.
Grounded in the oral testimonies of those who designed and delivered New Labour’s homelessness policies, it concludes that Labour’s achievements in reducing street homelessness were real and significant. Challenging interpretations of New Labour’s interventions as ‘revanchist’ in intent, it shows instead that Labour enacted a coherent and sustained programme, driven from the centre of government, that focused on developing long-term solutions to rough sleeping. It shows that Labour utilised novel and innovative methods of governance to reduce the high levels of rough sleeping it inherited on attaining office, devised new methods of addressing homeless prevention, and instituted policies designed to empower former rough sleepers to permanently escape homelessness. To achieve its aims, New Labour facilitated significant improvements in the scale, scope and working practices of the voluntary sector homeless agencies that delivered its programme.
This research also shows that New Labour’s homelessness policies were enacted in accord with its stated ‘Third Way’ ideology. Given the efficacy of its street homelessness programme, it argues that the Third Way deserves more serious attention than it is commonly afforded, both as an ideology and a mechanism of governance. In addition, as Labour’s commitment to addressing street homelessness was sustained long after press and public interest had declined, this research challenges a common characterisation of New Labour as being primarily concerned with maintaining a positive public image at the expense of delivering on social policy objectives.
By focussing on the mechanisms of government and the processes employed in the delivery of Labour’s homelessness policies, this research also offers a broader challenge to the writing of political history. Arguing that the process of transferring rhetoric into policy, and policy aims into actual improvements in the quality of citizens lives, is perhaps the most important task of government, it calls for a greater prominence to be given to delivery of social policy aims in assessments of governments’ performance in office and in the writing of political histories.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: Department of History
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/14725


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