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Welfare Conditionality: Sanctions Support and Behaviour Change

This project aims to conduct independent and high quality research located at the forefront of international debates on the theory and practice of welfare conditionality. It will explore two key questions linked to the effectiveness and the ethics of welfare conditionality:

  • First, how effective is welfare conditionality in changing the behaviour of those in receipt of welfare benefits and services?
  • Second, are there any particular circumstances in which the use of conditionality may, or may not be, justifiable?

In order to answer these questions the research team will be conducting interviews with three important groups:

  • People who make and influence policy e.g. politicians, senior civil servants, service provider agencies, campaigning organisations (40 interviews).
  • People who implement and manage conditional welfare policies e.g. employment advisors, family intervention workers, street outreach workers, local authority housing officers, social workers, probation officers etc. (24 focus groups).
  • People who experience varying types and degrees of welfare conditionality in their everyday lives i.e. unemployed people, lone mothers, disabled people, social tenants, homeless people, individuals/families subject to antisocial behaviour orders/family intervention projects, offenders and migrants (3 repeat interviews with 400 people within a three year period).

This will enable the project to compare and contrast the perspectives of policy-makers, managers/front-line workers and service users who are experiencing conditional welfare in it various forms. The fieldwork is being carried out in the following areas: Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Peterborough and Sheffield.

The project runs for five years (2013-2018).

Partners: This research project brings together teams of researchers working in six English and Scottish Universities i.e. University of Glasgow, Heriot-Watt University, University of Salford, Sheffield Hallam University, University of Sheffield and the University of York, which acts as the central hub for this collaborative partnership.

University of Salford Investigators: Dr Lisa Scullion and Katy Jones

Funder: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded under the Centres and Large Grants Scheme.

Further information: Conditionality