From a Lone Mother's Perspective: An in-depth case study on the psychosocial impacts of the 'Bedroom tax' in the UK

  • Lauren Mccoy

Student thesis: Doctor of Counselling Psychology


Since 2010 when the previous Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition Government came into power, major alterations have been introduced to the welfare state in the UK. The policy, commonly known as 'the bedroom tax' (BT) has received widespread public and media attention for its controversy and perceived attack on the finances and living conditions of low-income, working age households in need of welfare support. The implementation of this particular policy has reduced housing benefits for social housing tenants who are deemed to be under-occupying their homes according to the policy criteria. Families therefore, who are deemed to have a 'spare room' are required to make up the short-fall in rent or downsize to smaller properties. Research has shown that this policy has pushed vulnerable social housing tenants further into poverty and debt. This thesis has been designed to understand the everyday psychosocial effects of this policy further. It is a unique case study exploring life from a lone mother's experience of the policy. Data was collected from two interviews and over a ten-month period to assess whether time would be a factor that would affect the story told by one lone mother as she lives with the impacts of the policy. Both interviews were subject to critical narrative analysis. Murray's (1999) 'levels of narrative analysis' were drawn upon to analyse the multiple narratives occurring within this participant's experience of the BT, shedding light on stories told at the personal, interpersonal, positional and ideological level. The critical narrative analysis then looked at how these stories at each level connected to highlight the psychosocial implications of living with the BT policy as a single mother. The eight plotlines discovered in the analysis demonstrate the complicated areas, which contribute to the story as a whole. Time showed that pervasive feelings of stigmatisation and enforced social isolation occurred due to reduced economic resources and dominant cultural ideologies directed at welfare recipients. Overall, the present case study findings provide an example of the interrelatedness of wellbeing and wellness in the context of public policy changes. Moreover, it shows that the current social and political conditions are challenging the lives of those who find themselves in vulnerable socio-economic positions. The case study poses a number of challenges for counselling psychology, especially as there are ongoing debates on how the profession can engage effectively with wider social and political issues.
Date of Award31 Dec 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorErica Burman (Supervisor) & Laura Winter (Supervisor)


  • social justice, counselling psychology, welfare policy, psychosocial

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