Study investigates welfare conditions and behavioural change

Friday 1 March 2013

The University of Salford is leading a major research study into the conditions attached to welfare benefits and whether they are successful in changing the behaviour of claimants.

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is funding the five-year  £2.5m project which brings together leading researchers from the University of Salford, University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University, Heriot-Watt University and the University of Stirling.

The study will explore the ethics and efficacy of welfare conditionality which has increased over the last 20 years to encourage the ‘positive’ behaviour of welfare recipients, for example undertaking a training or work programme in order to claim Job Seekers’ Allowance or complying with conditions related to family intervention projects. 

Interviews and focus groups will be held with policymakers, managers and frontline staff who deliver welfare initiatives and the diverse groups of welfare service users which are subject to the conditions.

In addition to influencing future welfare policy and practice, the study aims to contribute towards training the next generation of social researchers by establishing eight PhD studentships.

Project leader, Professor Peter Dwyer of the University of Salford’s School of Nursing, Social Work & Midwifery, said: “The use of conditional welfare arrangements that combine elements of sanction and support has become an established part of welfare policy within and beyond the UK.

“Together, we will be exploring the extent to which conditionality may be justifiable and, importantly, its effectiveness in instigating behaviour change. The support of the ESRC is gratefully acknowledged.”