About our research

We’re studying conditional welfare in the UK. By that we mean two main situations. One is where people’s access to welfare is restricted or stopped – for example, by benefit sanctions or rules. The second, equally important, is welfare support – for example, through family intervention projects or help to find work. Generally with these kinds of sanctions and support, governments aim to get people to change their behaviour. We’re looking into all the effects of sanctions and support on people’s lives.

Our research asks two key questions:

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

More about welfare conditionality
Find out more about our team
Detailed information for researchers

Who’s taking part

People who experience sanctions and support in their everyday lives are central to our research. We’ve interviewed nine groups of people: unemployed people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, individuals and households claiming Universal Credit, lone parents, disabled people, social tenants, homeless people, people subject to antisocial behaviour orders or family intervention, migrants and offenders.

Our interviews are with 481 people living in Bath, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Greater Manchester, Inverness, London, Peterborough, Sheffield and Warrington. We’ve interviewed the same people twice more over time, to see what longer-term effects the sanctions and support are having.

Other participants

We want to make sure we include a full range of views in our study. So we have also interviewed other groups such as policy makers and practitioners.

What’s the timescale?

Our project started in 2013 and will finish in 2018. Our final findings are published on this site – and check News & Events for the latest updates and activities.

Many thanks to everyone who has taken part in this research.


ESRCAn ESRC large grant
University of Glasgow Heriot Watt University University of Salford Manchester Sheffield Hallam University University of Sheffield University of York