School of Geography
The cumulative impact of welfare reform on families in Leeds
Annie Connolly will be working on a project led by GIPSIL, a third-sector organisation providing housing-related support and welfare advice throughout Leeds. The team working on the project will also include Richard Bridge, a Consultant on Social Security and the Welfare System.
The last seven years have been witness to the ‘most radical reshaping of welfare policy since 1945′ (Hammett, 2014 p.490). These reforms to the social security system have brought about a £27bn loss to benefits claimants every year (Beatty and Fothergill, 2015), and are hitting the poorest families the hardest (Aldridge and Macinnes, 2014). The objective of this project is to produce, disseminate and publicise a report which explains the cumulative impact of changes to the benefits system since 2010 via five in-depth case studies of real families’ and individuals’ experiences.
Each case study will map how the changes made to the benefits system – examples include the introduction of the ‘bedroom tax’, the freezing of child benefit rates, and the benefit cap – have impacted on household income over the period 2010 – 2017, and will describe how the resulting changes in income have impacted on the daily lives of the families.
Annie’s contribution will be to undertake one-to-one interviews with case study participants in order to gather their personal narratives and lived experiences. GIPSIL staff, who are welfare advice experts, will calculate the changes to household income. Annie will then pull together all the data and produce a report. She will lead on disseminating and promoting the report and the findings.
GIPSIL Has a history of undertaking social policy work and is committed to on-going research into the impact of welfare reform on behalf of its service users, who are among the most vulnerable of Leeds’ citizens. They have previously been involved with the ‘Dole Animators’ Project, resulting from Ruth Patrick’s PhD research into the lived experiences of welfare reform.
The aim of this project is to disseminate the resulting report as widely as possible, both locally and nationally, in order to both raise awareness of the hardship suffered by families and individuals as a result of welfare reform, and lobby for change. Dissemination of the report and promotion of the findings will be undertaken via social media, broadcast media, dialogues with MPS, local authority officers and Councillors, and engagement with campaigning organisations. If further funding is won, a workshop/conference will be organised to publicise and discuss the findings.