In-work Universal Credit: claimant experiences of conditionality mismatches and counterproductive benefit sanctions

Wright, S. and Dwyer, P. (2021) In-work Universal Credit: claimant experiences of conditionality mismatches and counterproductive benefit sanctions. Journal of Social Policy, (doi: 10.1017/S0047279420000562) (Early Online Publication)

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Abstract

Universal Credit is the UK’s globally innovative social security reform that replaces six means- tested benefits with one monthly payment for working age claimants - combining social security and tax credit systems. Universal Credit expands welfare conditionality via mandatory job search conditions to enhance ‘progression’ amongst working claimants by requiring extra working hours or multiple jobs. This exposes low paid workers to tough benefit sanctions for non-compliance, which could remove essential income indefinitely or for fixed periods of up to three years. Our unique contribution is to establish how this new regime is experienced at micro level by in-work claimants over time. We present findings from Qualitative Longitudinal Research (141 interviews with 58 claimants, 2014-17), to demonstrate how UC impacts on in-work recipients and how conditionality produces a new coerced worker-claimant model of social support. We identify a series of welfare conditionality mismatches and conclude that conditionality for in-work claimants is largely counterproductive. This implies a redesign of the UK system and serves as an international warning to potential policy emulators.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Early Online Publication
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Wright, Professor Sharon
Authors: Wright, S., and Dwyer, P.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Journal Name:Journal of Social Policy
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:0047-2794
ISSN (Online):1469-7823
Published Online:01 December 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of Social Policy 2020
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
170423Sanctions, support and behaviour change: understanding the role and impact of welfare confidentialitySharon WrightEconomic and Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/K002163/2S&PS - Urban Studies