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CASE News
The ESRC John Hills Impact Prize 2022

The Celebrating Impact Prize awards are part of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Festival of Social Sciences, this year the award ceremony was live streamed from the Royal Society in London on 2 November. The competition, now in its tenth year, recognises and rewards ESRC-funded researchers who have achieved impact through exceptional research, knowledge exchange activities, collaborative partnerships and engagement with different communities.

This year a special prize was awarded in memory of the late Professor Sir John Hills who is remembered across the social science and policy community for his leadership and contribution to social policy, especially in relation to poverty and inequality. 

This category recognised a social scientist whose work demonstrates how the economic and social sciences benefit wider society and who has encouraged or facilitated positive, lasting and profound changes in the quality of the lives of a significant number of people over a sustained period.

Dr Tania Burchardt, Associate Director of CASE, was delighted to present the award to the winner, Professor Heather Joshi, and offer her congratulations on behalf of us all at CASE.

The John Hills Impact Prize 2022

Winner
Professor Heather Joshi CBE, IOE, Centre for Longitudinal Studies, UCL

Exposing social inequalities and working to break the cycle of disadvantage
As a leading architect of ESRC’s prestigious longitudinal studies infrastructure, Professor Heather Joshi CBE has made an outstanding contribution to social science. Her influence on government policies relating to women, employment, working families and pensions is evident in the everyday lives of British people across multiple generations.

Finalist
Professor Jane Millar OBE, University of Bath: Helping UK’s benefits system deliver financial security and stability


News Posted: 03 November 2022      [Back to the Top]

CASE News
CASE celebrates 25th birthday

The Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) celebrated its 25th Birthday at a special event on 7 and 8 September 2022. The first day of the event reflected on Professor John Hills's contributions during his time as the first director of CASE (1997-2016). On 8 September, sessions looked back at CASE's research from the past 25 years, with a catch up with some CASE alumni and look forward to the future.

Presentation slides from the event will shortly be available below.

Wednesday 7 September - Celebrating John Hills's contributions

Cross cutting welfare state analysis
Paul Johnson (Institute for Fiscal Studies) 25 years of pensions and social security policy
Polly Vizard (CASE) John Hills's cross-cutting framework for welfare state analysis
Ruth Lupton (University of Manchester) 25 years of CASEwork on areas and neighbourhoods

Poverty, inequality and social security
Kitty Stewart (CASE) A time of need: Exploring the changing poverty risk facing larger families in the UK
Bea Cantillon (University of Antwerp) Decent Incomes for all: why do rich nations fail?
Giovanni Razzu (University of Reading) An Anatomy of Economic Inequality: the work of the National Equality Panel

Housing and fuel poverty
Mark Stephens (University of Glasgow) Housing and poverty - John Hills's contribution
Becky Tunstall (University of York) Learning from John Hills - on social housing
Abigail McKnight (CASE) Fuel poverty: The Hills Review and recent developments

Thursday 8 September - CASE at 25 and beyond

CASE at 25 - Disadvantage and Inequalities
Abigail McKnight (CASE) Using theory to inform the development of measurement frameworks: the MIF and the EMF
Irene Bucelli (CASE) Tackling poverty and inequality: how policy toolkits can provide academic rigour to policy making
Tania Burchardt (CASE) Taking seriously the social determinants of care and their consequences

CASE at 25 - CASE alumni
Aaron Grech (Bank of Malta), Tiffany Tsang (Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association), Ben Baumberg Geiger (King’s College London), Tom Sefton (Good Company), Caroline Paskell (Ipsos), Orsolya Lelkes (independent researcher)

CASE at 25 - Policy evaluation
Jane Waldfogel (Columbia University) Evaluating the (short-lived) US experiment with a child benefit
Anne Power (CASE/LSE Housing and Communities) Qualitative methods evolved by LSE Housing and Communities
Ilona Pinter (CASE) Researching child poverty and inequality in the asylum and immigration system

CASE beyond 25 - Thinking Poverty: are our concepts fit for purpose? (Panel discussion)
Fran Bennett (University of Oxford), Suzanne Fitzpatrick (Heriot-Watt University), Julian Le Grand (London School of Economics), Kate Summers (London School of Economics), Chris Goulden (Youth Futures Foundation)


News Posted: 02 September 2022      [Back to the Top]

CASE News
LSE colleagues from across the School pay tribute to John Hills (1954-2020)

In December 2020 a shock wave went across the School, and reverberated well beyond, with the news of the premature death of our highly esteemed and greatly valued colleague John Hills. John embodied the very best of LSE and of academic life. He was a standard bearer for, and an outstanding example of, an LSE tradition of excellence and leadership on social policy which runs from its beginning to the great figures of William Beveridge, Richard Titmuss, and Tony Atkinson. Within the LSE John was a key figure, universally respected across the institution for his intellect, fair-mindedness and collegiality. It is impossible to exaggerate the deep admiration with which John was regarded and his impact across the School.

Reinforcing John's passion for social justice was great wisdom and judgement; when John spoke, people listened. His communication skills were exceptional. He was a great communicator of ideas as well as detail, making him indispensable for students, colleagues, civil servants, politicians and the media. He changed views across the nation, and beyond, on everything he touched, from fuel poverty to pensions.

In the mid-1980s, Tony Atkinson asked John to help set up the Welfare State Programme in the, then, Suntory Toyota International Centre for Economics and Related Disciplines (STICERD) [later to become Centres] with Julian Le Grand. Nick Stern arrived at the LSE at the same time, and they worked closely to help build STICERD, together with its two pioneers and first chairs Michio Morishima and Tony Atkinson. All had distinct research areas, but were united around the idea of bringing theory and evidence together to take on the major economic and social issues of the times. One common strand was the use of official household level data to understand how wealth and incomes were distributed. Efforts to access such data from government surveys came to fruition in the mid-1980s, thus enabling household-level distributional analysis which paved the way for much of today's research on inequality and the impact of policy on how resources are shared.

The Welfare State Programme was a massive research effort, much of which was undertaken by John. Perhaps its biggest success was the production of The State of Welfare: The Economics of Social Spending. This magisterial work provided an authoritative account of the development and impact of the welfare state in the last few decades of the twentieth century. Everyone in the Programme contributed to the book (which went into several editions), but, along with Howard Glennerster, John was the lead as editor and the author of several key chapters.

In the production of the book and in the wider activities of the Welfare State Programme, John honed skills as a policy analyst that were to serve him so well as both a distinguished academic and an influential policy adviser. He also displayed a human touch that was such an important feature of the Hills persona, supporting the development of younger staff, many of whom have gone on to become distinguished academics in their own right. And it was not only the younger staff who benefited from his leadership, but his peers as well, with his drive, energy and sense of cheerful optimism inspiring them to take on ambitious challenges, but always with a fundamental wisdom that helped rein in wilder flights of fancy.

Earlier work at the LSE (The Economics of the Welfare State) stressed the welfare state's role in redistributing incomes not only between individuals but also within individuals own life cycles. John played a leading part in developing models to quantify that insight, including an important early volume on life-cycle aspects of the welfare state (The Dynamic of Welfare: The Welfare State and the Life Cycle) and later his influential book (Good Times, Bad Times: The Welfare Myth of Them and Us). In John's customary vivid way this book comprehensively holed the 'them and us' narrative below the water line; debunking the fallacy that one group covers the cost of welfare while another group reaps the benefits. Instead of a dry statistical account of the evolving way in which different individuals and families rely and benefit from the welfare state over their lives, John brings to life the hard facts with a series of vignettes about the lives of members of two fictional families - the Osborne family, who are well-off, and the Ackroyd family, who are less fortunate, who had originally featured in TV documentaries by Julian Le Grand and Don Jordan. The result is a masterclass in how to present academic research to a wide readership.

John's mastery of communication and clarity of exposition was also central to his brilliance as a teacher. He is remembered by generations of students for his ability to communicate analytical concepts and policy ideas both precisely and intuitively. He ensured that students gained the essential building blocks for understanding complex systems such as social security and the distributional consequences of policy, doing so in ways that made sense to students at all levels, and those without as well as those with a background in economics. He continually found original ways of teaching unfamiliar or complex ideas, and many students remember the moment when a particular concept, whether income dynamics, or elasticities, or Pen's parade became clear, following his exposition of a graph or his careful explanation in one-to-one student meetings, or his enactment of real life inequalities using bamboo canes or different height students. Many of his junior colleagues learnt from his examples of teaching and student engagement, and his prioritisation of students even in the face of other demands on his time was notable. John was always generous with his time and attended to his students' welfare as well as their education. Even during his final illness he continued to think about their needs, including searching for new readings or fresh illustrations.

Certainly among John's many legacies will be his influence on all those who were taught by him as undergraduates, graduates and PhD students. But it is not only for his own published work, his policy impact or his students that he will be remembered. He was remarkable also for his team building capacity. When an opportunity arose towards the end of the 1990s to create a research centre focusing on the less advantaged, John expertly built an inter-disciplinary team of co-Directors from the Welfare State Programme and the Department of Social Policy (Howard Glennerster, John Hills, Kathleen Kiernan, Julian Le Grand and Anne Power; Carol Propper would join a little later) and convinced the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to fund the centre for 10 years. After receiving confirmation of funding in early 1997, the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) was launched in October 1997, shortly after the Labour Party won the 1997 general election and shortly before the establishment of the Social Exclusion Unit in the Cabinet Office. The timing could not have been any better. John led CASE by example, both by producing high-quality, policy relevant research, and in the way he nurtured and championed the careers of cohorts of CASE researchers and PhD students. He directed with a gentle touch and even after stepping down as director in 2016 stayed on as CASE chair, and generously continued to contribute to the work and life of the Centre.

During his years at CASE, John, working with colleagues, led a series of large scale studies assessing the distributional impact of UK government policy across key areas of social policy. Detailed research papers were supplemented by a series of books aimed at disseminating the main findings to a wider audience: A More Equal Society? New Labour, poverty, inequality and exclusion; Towards a More Equal Society? Policy, poverty and inequality since 1997; Social Policy in a Cold Climate: Policies and their consequences since the crisis. The latest study in this series (Social Policies and Distributional Outcomes in a Changing Britain) was nearing completion at the time of his premature death.

Underpinned by high quality academic research, John took knowledge exchange to a new level (well before the concept had been formally recognised). John's command of large bodies of research and ability to identify salient facts, coupled with exceptional communication skills, meant that he was sought-after. Notable examples of John's highly influential policy work include the independent review of social housing policy in England, Ends and Means, the independent review of fuel poverty, Getting the Measure of Fuel Poverty, which changed official understanding and measurement of fuel poverty, and the independent National Equality Panel (NEP) which produced the first detailed anatomy of economic inequality in the UK. In addition, John was one of only three members of the government's Pensions Commission, which established three fundamentally important reforms: auto-enrolment, a basic pension not below the poverty line (a return to Beveridge), and a workable proposal for simple savings plans, eventually introduced as widely-praised NEST pensions. These studies - as with so much of John’s work - had a heavy focus on less well-off members of society.

The trust which colleagues felt in John as both a distinguished scholar and a generous and gifted institution-builder, alongside his quite extraordinary work ethic, were the foundation stones on which the International Inequalities Institute (III) was built with wide and enduring support. John was co-Director of III from its inception in 2015 until 2018. With his visionary imagination, John recognised that a major initiative was needed to bring together expertise across the School, to provide a strong inter-disciplinary platform from which inequality researchers could speak to wide public and policy audiences, and to nurture new generations of students and academics. At this stage of his illustrious career, he could understandably have decided that he could leave to others the sheer grind of getting a full Institute up and running from scratch and that he could enjoy a figurehead role. But this was not his way. John threw himself into the tireless and demanding work of persuading academics to engage with the III, teaching the MSc in Inequalities and Social Science, and managing the fledgling Institute in the early days. His role in fund raising was decisive. It was after John's warm overtures that negotiations with Atlantic Philanthropies took place which ultimately led to the award of the Atlantic Fellows Programme in Social and Economic Equity (AFSEE) and secure core funding for the III into the 2030s.

Thoughts of John Hills are, for many, indistinguishable from thoughts of 'John and Anne'. In the early days of the Welfare State Programme one young colleague referred to John as 'probably the most eligible young man in the LSE'. A few months later she remarked 'no longer, I think'. Anne Power and he had met.

Anne was already one of the country's leading housing policy experts and that was John's early specialism. As a team, in every sense, they were inseparable and invincible. Anne shared his passion for the Lake District and hill walking. His list of every major peak he had climbed with Anne was one of his proudest trophies. Their small mining cottage in Glenridding was their treasured retreat where so much of his and her work was written. Every crag around Ullswater was intimately known and explored. His devotion to Anne extended to her three daughters, Carmen, Miriam and Lucy, and their five grandchildren, Jasmine, Sophie, Lucia, Bella and Isla-Rose. He introduced them to fell walking, organised ingenious treasure hunts and would even read up on biology to help with revision. John also shared with Anne a deep concern about climate change. He was keenly aware of its profoundly unequal consequences; and full of practical and thought-through policy ideas. Indeed, he could tell you, with great precision, the different heat-saving potentials of double-glazing, loft insulation, and wall cladding.

John's passion for the Lake District was perhaps matched only by his passion for cricket. While he had had to abandon playing himself, his enthusiasm for the game and interest in the varied fortunes of the England team were a constant. This was a topic he discussed with infectious enthusiasm with friends and colleagues and it became a thread that bound many of them together.

John will be remembered by so many as the wonderful friend and colleague he was. However difficult a day or week you were having, if you saw John and his smile, experienced his warmth, listened to his anecdotes, absorbed his insights, you felt so much better. He had the gifts of warmth, happiness and friendship in extraordinary measure.

Professor Nicholas Barr, Professor Howard Glennerster, Professor Nicola Lacey, Professor Julian Le Grand, Dr Abigail McKnight, Professor Lucinda Platt, Professor Mike Savage, and Professor Lord Nicholas Stern


News Posted: 24 June 2022      [Back to the Top]

CASE News
Research Excellence Framework 2021 results

We are proud that CASE research led to Impact Case Studies that were awarded a 4* world-leading grade in REF2021. Our research contributed to the Social Policy department (along with the Departments of Health Policy, Psychological and Behavioural Science, Gender Studies, and Methodology) receiving a 4* world-leading grade for the Unit of Assessment’s (UoA’s) Research Environment and 99 per cent of research outputs rated as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.

Research by CASE on poverty and inequality has influenced how critical social problems are measured and understood, resulting in an Impact Case Study that has been awarded a 4* world-leading grade. This work has highlighted previously hidden or neglected disparities, and, in so doing, given visibility and voice to marginalised groups. CASE researchers have developed systematic and comprehensive monitoring frameworks for social disadvantage and multidimensional inequality. To date, four frameworks have been developed: the Equality Measurement Framework (EMF), Children’s Measurement Framework (CMF), and Human Rights Measurement Framework (HRMF) for the UK; and the Multidimensional Inequality Framework (MIF), developed in conjunction with Oxfam for international use. These frameworks have been used by the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission and campaign and advocacy groups. CASE research on child poverty highlighted how “money matters” in shaping children’s life chances and research on the measurement of child poverty contributed to an amendment to the Welfare Reform and Work Bill committing the government to continuing to publish income-based child poverty measures.

A lifetime of engaging with neighbourhood housing management, to enhance tenant participation and meet housing needs, was recognised in the 4* world-leading grade accorded LSE Housing and Communities’ Impact Case Study. It demonstrated direct influence on policy development at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (now Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities), including through the Lessons from Grenfell research programme. Through the Housing Plus Academy, which tackles key public issues of the day, such as fuel poverty, low energy efficiency, and fire safety, LSE Housing and Communities have connected social housing tenants, front-line staff, senior decision-makers, government, and third-sector organisations to promote greater inclusion of tenant and on-the-ground perspectives within housing policy.

In addition, Case Associate Stephen Jenkins’ ground-breaking research has improved the measurement of top incomes and changed official practice. His Impact Case Study showed how supplementing household survey data on incomes with information from income tax data about the very richest individuals leads to more accurate estimates of income inequality levels and trends. Part of this research showed that inequality in the UK today is as high as it was just before World War II. Stephen’s work directly informed how the Office for National Statistics constructed its new official data series for income inequality.


News Posted: 12 May 2022      [Back to the Top]

CASE News
Review of material deprivation questions and methodology

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has commissioned CASE to conduct a review of the Households Below Average Income (HBAI) material deprivation measures and the questions in the Family Resources Survey (FRS) which are used to derive these measures.
Specifically, the review will explore:

  • which material deprivation items for families with children, families with working-age adults and families with pensioners should be included in the FRS
  • what are the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches for determining who is materially deprived
  • what are the advantages and disadvantages of developing a “core” set of questions for the whole population alongside measures aimed at specific family types
  • do the advantages of changing the material deprivation items and methodology/methodologies outweigh the disadvantages, for example a break in the time series

Abigail McKnight will be the principal investigator, with Irene Bucelli, Tania Burchardt, and Eleni Karagiannaki as co-investigators.

Find out more about the project.


News Posted: 05 May 2022      [Back to the Top]

CASE News
New research finds that the two-child limit is has a very small effect on fertility so will increase child poverty

Does cutting benefits for low-income families with children reduce fertility? When George Osborne announced the two-child limit on social security benefits, he said the aim was to ensure that families in receipt of benefits faced the same financial choices about having children as those supporting themselves solely in work. Five years on from the introduction of the limit, Nuffield Foundation-funded research by the London School of Economics, King's College London and the University of York finds the policy led to only a small decline in fertility among those households directly affected.

This implies that the main result of the two-child limit is to deprive families living on a low-income of approximately £3000 a year. This will inevitably lead to dramatic increases in child poverty among larger families. This comes on top of existing and sharp increases in child poverty among larger families due to social security cuts over the last decade. Since 2013/14, child poverty among larger families has risen dramatically; almost half of all children living in families with more than two children are in poverty. Our results suggest that this will be worsened considerably by the two-child limit.

Mary Reader, Research Officer at the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) at the LSE and lead author of the paper, said: "This research shows that the ostensible rationale behind the two-child limit is fundamentally flawed. The policy assumed that cutting child-related benefits for low-income families would disincentivise families from having more than two children. But our research shows that fertility has declined only slightly. This is likely to be in part due to low awareness of the policy, but we also think it may be due to the relative 'stickiness' of fertility preferences: if someone really wants to have a child, they are unlikely to decide not to just because they won't receive state support for that child."

Alex Beer, Welfare Programme Head at the Nuffield Foundation said: "Over the past five years, the two-child limit has only had a small effect on whether families had a third or subsequent child. Instead, the policy has withdrawn significant resources from larger families living on a low-income, which was putting their mental health and wellbeing at risk, even before the recent cost of living increases."

The research found that the two-child limit has led to a decline in the number of third and subsequent births of approximately 5,600 a year, just under 1 percent of total annual births in England and Wales. It examined fertility trends among adult women of childbearing age, both those affected by the policy and those who were not, allowing for differential fertility trends between low-income women and others, and between those who already had two or more children and those who did not. This analysis suggested that the two-child limit had a measurable, but relatively small, impact on the number of births to affected families; the probability of having a third or subsequent child declined by 0.36 percentage points (or 5 percent) after the limit was introduced.

This is a much smaller effect than one would expect given existing evidence on welfare and fertility; previous research, based on the impact of benefit increases in the early 2000s, suggested that increases in child-related benefits lead to relatively large increases in fertility - approximately 3 times as large as our estimate.

You can reaad the paper and a non-technical summary on the project website.

This research was funded by the Nuffield Foundation, an independent charitable trust with a mission to advance social well-being. It funds research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare, and Justice. It also funds student programmes that provide opportunities for young people to develop skills in quantitative and scientific methods. The Nuffield Foundation is the founder and co-funder of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics and the Ada Lovelace Institute. The Foundation has funded this project, but the views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the Foundation. Visit www.nuffieldfoundation.org


News Posted: 06 April 2022      [Back to the Top]