Dr Daniel Edmiston

Faculty of Social Sciences, School of Sociology and Social Policy

Welfare at a (Social) Distance: Building a Community of Practice to Improve Income, Benefits and Employment Support During COVID-19 and its Aftermath

Responsive Mode Impact Fund

Since March 2020, the UK has witnessed the biggest fall in GDP on record and the fastest increase in the number of people claiming working-age benefits since records began: in just five months the claimant count increased by 117% from 1.2 million to 2.7 million.

Our new research project funded by the UKRI’s rapid response to COVID-19 is exploring how the benefits systems and claimants are managing amidst significance labour market disruption and income insecurity. The policy landscape is moving quickly with considerable change and uncertainty surrounding who is entitled to what assistance and the impact (intended or otherwise) of crisis social security measures.

This IAA project will bring together local and national stakeholders to identify urgent gaps in knowledge, share information and best practice and facilitate opportunities for evidence-driven policy campaigning and advocacy work. This will be underpinned by disseminating rapid evidence from our research project to fill gaps in knowledge and understanding. We will do this through a dedicated programme of online webinars (policy roundtables and practitioner seminars), accessible dissemination of research and knowledge outputs and a new online platform for key stakeholders working to identify and address practitioner and policy issues.

This online platform will feature contributions from, and encourage dialogue between those with lived experience of the social security system, non-academic researchers, policymakers, policy influencers and practitioners. In doing so, this IAA project will bring together local and national stakeholders to build a new and necessary community of practice working to improve income, benefit and employment support during the COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath.

Dr Daniel Edmiston can be contacted by email: D.Edmiston@leeds.ac.uk