Exploring the health and sociodemographic characteristics of people seeking advice with claiming universal credit: a cross-sectional analysis of UK citizens advice data, 2017–2021

Brown, H. et al. (2023) Exploring the health and sociodemographic characteristics of people seeking advice with claiming universal credit: a cross-sectional analysis of UK citizens advice data, 2017–2021. BMC Public Health, 23, 595. (doi: 10.1186/s12889-023-15483-4) (PMID:36997889) (PMCID:PMC10060933)

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Abstract

Background: The UK Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) administers Universal Credit (UC) – the main UK benefit for people in- and out-of-work. UC is being rolled out nationally from 2013 to 2024. Citizens Advice (CA) is an independent charity that provides advice and support to people making a claim for UC. The aim of this study is to understand who is seeking advice from CA when making a UC claim and how the types of people seeking advice are changing as the rollout of UC continues. Methods: Co-developed with Citizens Advice Newcastle and Citizens Advice Northumberland we performed longitudinal analysis of national data from Citizens Advice for England and Wales on the health (mental health and limiting long term conditions) and socio-demographic of 1,003,411 observations for people seeking advice with claiming UC over four financial years (2017/18 to 2020/21). We summarised population characteristics and estimated the differences between the four financial years using population-weighted t-tests. Findings were discussed with three people with lived experience of seeking advice to claim UC to help frame our interpretation and policy recommendations. Results: When comparing 2017/18 to 2018/19, there was a significantly higher proportion of people with limiting long term conditions seeking advice with claiming UC than those without (+ 2.40%, 95%CI: 1.31-3.50%). However, as the rollout continued between 2018/29 and 2019/20 (-6.75%, 95%CI: -9.62%--3.88%) and between 2019/20 and 2020/21 (-2.09%, 95%CI: -2.54%--1.64%), there were significantly higher proportions of those without a limiting long term condition seeking advice than with. When comparing 2018/19 to 2019/20 and 2019/20 to 2020/21, there was a significant increase in the proportion of self-employed compared to unemployed people seeking advice with claiming UC (5.64%, 95%CI: 3.79-7.49%) and (2.26%, 95%CI: 1.29-3.23%) respectively. Conclusion: As the rollout for UC continues, it is important to understand how changes in eligibility for UC may impact on those who need help with applying for UC. Ensuring that the advice process and application process is responsive to a range of people with different needs can help to reduce the likelihood that the process of claiming UC will exacerbate health inequalities.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This research is supported by the UK National Institute of Health Research Public Health Research Programme, grant number NIHR131709. HB is supported by the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration for the North West Coast (NIHR200182). PC, MG and SVK acknowledge funding from the UK Medical Research Council (MC_UU_00022/2) and Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office (SPHSU17). SVK acknowledges funding from a NRS Senior Clinical Fellowship (SCAF/15/02) and the European Research Council (949582). CB and MC acknowledge funding from the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration for the North East and North Cumbria (NIHR200173), and CB from the National Prevention Research Initiative for the Systems science in Public Health and Health Economics Research consortium (MR/S037578/1). LAM acknowledge funding from the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration for Greater Manchester (NIHR200174). SW acknowledges funding from a Wellcome Trust Society and Ethics Research Fellowship (200335/Z/15/Z). DT-R is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Public Health Research (SPHR), Grant Reference Number PD-SPH-2015. DT-R is also funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) on a Clinician Scientist Fellowship (MR/P008577/1).
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Craig, Professor Peter and Katikireddi, Professor Vittal and Gibson, Dr Marcia and Baxter, Dr Andy
Authors: Brown, H., Xiang, H., Cheetham, M., Morris, S., Gibson, M., Katikireddi, S. V., Munford, L. A., Taylor-Robinson, D., Finney, H., Bartle, V., Baxter, A. J., Wickham, S., Craig, P., and Bambra, C.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:BMC Public Health
Publisher:BioMed Central
ISSN:1471-2458
ISSN (Online):1471-2458
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2023 The Authors
First Published:First published in BMC Public Health 23: 595
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons license

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
310618Evaluation of the health impacts of Universal Credit: a mixed methods studyPeter CraigNational Institute for Health Research (NIHR)NIHR131709SHW - MRC/CSO Social & Public Health Sciences Unit
3048230021Inequalities in healthAlastair LeylandMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_00022/2HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
3048230071Inequalities in healthAlastair LeylandOffice of the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSO)SPHSU17HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
172690Understanding the impacts of welfare policy on health: A novel data linkage studySrinivasa KatikireddiOffice of the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSO)SCAF/15/02SHW - Public Health
308851HEEDSrinivasa KatikireddiEuropean Research Council (ERC)949582SHW - MRC/CSO Social & Public Health Sciences Unit