Welfare at a (social) distance : accessing social security and employment support during the Covid-19 and its aftermath

Robertshaw, D, Summers, K, Scullion, LC ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5766-3241, Edmiston, D, Baumberg Geiger, B, Gibbons, AR ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4600-806X, Ingold, J, De Vries, R and Young, DHJ ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9757-7006 2022, 'Welfare at a (social) distance : accessing social security and employment support during the Covid-19 and its aftermath' , in: COVID-19 collaborations : researching poverty and low-income family life during the pandemic , Policy Press. (In Press)

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Abstract

This chapter reflects on both our key findings and our experiences of undertaking the research during the pandemic. First, we examine the experiences of claimants, focusing specifically on Universal Credit (UC) and those who were engaging with the benefits system for the first time during the pandemic. This chapter draws primarily on our thematic analysis of the first wave of qualitative interviews with claimants (conducted between June and September 2020) and our interviews with support organisations (conducted between June and October 2020). However, we combine this with our quantitative data which enables us to situate people’s experiences within a nationally representative picture. Here we focus on three key themes: (i) accessing the benefits system; (ii) understandings of eligibility; and (iii) the use of formal and informal sources of support by claimants. It is argued that insufficient understandings of the social security system have had detrimental impacts for significant numbers of people in the form of delays and non-take-up of benefits. It is also suggested that the ‘digital by default’ system, although critical to successfully delivering financial support to people during the pandemic, has sometimes compounded uncertainties around eligibility and contributed towards claimant anxieties. In considering the perspectives of support organisations we find an uneven distribution of support for addressing poor benefit knowledge, and risks to vulnerable claimants through increased reliance upon informal sources of support. In the second part of the chapter, we then move on to share our reflections on the practical and methodological issues arising from conducting fieldwork in the context of the pandemic.

Item Type: Book Section
Editors: Garthwaite, K, Patrick, R, Power, M, Tarrant, A and Warnock, R
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society > Centre for Applied Research in Health, Welfare and Policy
Publisher: Policy Press
ISBN: 9781447364481 (paperback); 9781447364498 (ebook); 9781447364504 (open access ebook)
Related URLs:
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Depositing User: L Scullion
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2021 08:33
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 16:49
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/62107

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