Sanctions, support and Service leavers





Welcome to the webpage for Sanctions, support and Service leavers: welfare conditionality and transitions from military to civilian life. This study is investigating the effect of a conditional welfare system in the UK, including the use of sanctions, and how this affects ex-Service personnel and their families.

The research has been funded by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), a £35 million funding scheme run by the FiMT using an endowment awarded by the Big Lottery Fund. It is a major two year project (2017-2019) being undertaken jointly by researchers at the University of Salford and the University of York.

 The aim of our project is to provide a greater understanding of how Service leavers have found their way into the conditional benefits system, and the varied impacts and outcomes it mediates for Service leavers and their families, with recommendations for better and more effective services in the future. In order to do this we will be undertaking two rounds of qualitative longitudinal interviews with Service leavers and their families, along with consultation with key national, regional and local stakeholders.

The team

Dr Lisa Scullion (Principal Investigator)

Professor Peter Dwyer (Co-Investigator)

Dr Celia Hynes (Co-Investigator)

Katy Jones (Researcher)

Philip Martin (Researcher)


Researchers say benefits sanctions should not be imposed on veterans

June 18, 2019     Leave a Comment

A new study linked to WelCond has revealed that ex-Service personnel with physical and mental health problems are struggling to navigate a ‘baffling’ benefits system and should not incur sanctions.

Researchers from the University of Salford and the University of York conducted 120 interviews with ex-Service personnel and found the need for greater understanding of veterans’ complex needs and suggests that sanctions are not the answer.

Participants in the study were found to have insecure employment, with several struggling with debts and rent arrears, and some resorting to foodbanks or ‘going through the bins’. Others live with embarrassment, shame and resentment at a system they call unfair and bewildering. Read More

Service leavers project gives evidence to parliament

June 21, 2018     Leave a Comment

Compulsory full-time work search requirements under threat of sanctions in the benefit system can be counterproductive for service veterans, our linked project Sanctions, Support and Service Leavers said.

Its evidence to the Commons Work and Pension Committee’s inquiry into benefit sanctions said a ‘culture of compliance’ amongst veteran participants in the study got in the way of more meaningful and effective attempts to secure employment. Read More

Welfare conditionality and Armed Forces Service Leavers: some first wave findings

April 19, 2018     Leave a Comment

Katy Jones and Lisa Scullion give some early findings from this exciting new project

The Welfare Conditionality project has demonstrated the varied experiences of different groups in an increasingly conditional welfare system. In this blogpost we share some interim findings from a new, linked project:  Sanctions, Support and Service Leavers, in which we explore the experiences of former Service personnel in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit (UC), as they attempt to navigate the transition from military to civilian life. Read More

Event: Sanctions, Support & Service Leavers – social security benefits, welfare conditionality and transitions from military to civilian life

March 27, 2018     Leave a Comment

First wave findings launch

University of Salford | Room 3.10/3.11 | MediaCityUK | Salford M50 2HE
Thursday 19 April 2018  | 17.00 – 20.30

This event presents the first-wave findings of our longitudinal project funded by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT). This ground breaking project represents the first substantive research focusing specifically on veterans’ experiences of the social security benefits system in their transition to civilian life.

The event will include a presentation by the University of Salford and University of York research team, followed by a panel response including Dr Alan Barrett, Clinical Lead, Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust Military Veterans’ Service; Mark Knight, Armed Forces Lead, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP); and a representative of the Covenant Team from the Ministry of Defence.

As part of the project, we have also been working with Graphic Design students in the School of Arts and Media at the University of Salford. Delegates will also therefore have an opportunity to view some of the initial illustrations produced by the students based on anonymised excerpts from some of the interviews.

This event is free to attend, but registration is required for catering purposes. Please click here to register your attendance. If you have any questions about the event or the project please contact Dr Lisa Scullion:

Briefing paper: social security benefits, welfare conditionality and Armed Forces Service leavers

June 26, 2017     Leave a Comment

This briefing paper forms the background to a new project funded by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) focusing on the experiences of Service leavers and their families in receipt of mainstream conditional social security benefits. The use of conditional welfare arrangements is now firmly embedded within social security benefit receipt and welfare rights today come with specified responsibilities.

No specific government welfare-to-work programme exists for Armed Forces Service leavers; however, as part of the Armed Forces Covenant specific exemptions and easements are made in relation to Service leavers and their families who are seeking to claim social security benefits. Despite this, little is currently known of how Service leavers experience moving through the mainstream benefit system.

Read the full briefing

Read our blog

New award to examine impact of UK benefits system on Veterans

February 17, 2017     Leave a Comment

A grant of a £171,995 has been awarded to the University of Salford, working with the University of York on a two-year project, to examine what impact interaction with the benefit system has on the transition of military personnel to civilian life, thanks to support from the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT). The project will link with our own WelCond research.

Read More

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