Destitution and paths to justice – (in)justice and paths to destitution

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


Many of the social patterns evidenced by individuals who have experienced justiciable problems also apply to those individuals who have experienced destitution. This paper examines links between legal problems, access to legal advice and representation (or lack thereof) and pathways into and out of destitution. Findings encompass a legal definition of destitution; analysis of legal issues contributing to destitution; and identification of potential advice points and barriers for those experiencing destitution. A proposed legal definition of destitution, drawing on human rights, immigration and asylum law, social security law and the common law, has much in common with Fitzpatrick and others’ definition but, crucially, only rarely is there an absolute duty on the part of the state to prevent or alleviate destitution. Key legal triggers of destitution – social security, housing and debt problems – flow from underlying sources of increased vulnerability to both destitution and other legal problems, notably family breakdown, ill health and labour market exclusion. While opportunities for legal interventions to make a difference are identified, interviewees’ experiences ultimately speak to a failure of social citizenship and the need for policy change that reduces reliance on a discretionary, patchy and stigmatised safety net of local government and charitable support for protection against social risk.
Period13 Jul 2018
Event titleSocial Policy Association conference 2018: In the shadow of the 2008 crisis: 10 years on
Event typeConference
LocationYork, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational