what was involved

The research took place in a Northern city in England, and involved interviewing a small group of out-of-work benefit claimants three times between 2011 and 2013.

The research was particularly about changes to the benefit system and so those interviewed were those most likely to be affected by some of these reforms:

  • Young jobseekers, aged between 18 and 25
  • Disabled people affected by the migration of people from one disability benefit, Incapacity Benefit, onto a relatively new one, Employment and Support Allowance
  • Single parents whose youngest child is aged between 4 and 5 who were affected by being moved off Income Support and onto Jobseekers Allowance 

By interviewing people on three occasions, it was possible to explore how things were changing over time, and to see how people’s hopes, aspirations and fears changed as they experienced welfare reform(s). In the interviews, participants were asked a series of questions, and they also took part in activities such as drawing timelines of their lives or looking at cut-outs of different barriers to work and thinking about which ones applied to them. At all times, the confidentiality and anonymity of participants was prioritised, as was the avoidance of harm.

As well as the interviews, the researcher set up two steering groups which included participants from the research, and she also made efforts to keep in touch with participants between the interviews.

The final interviews took place in Winter 2012/13. The researcher is now looking at the findings, and working on trying to think through what they tell us about the lived experiences of welfare reform.

For more information about the research, and in particular ethical dilemmas encountered, and how the researcher managed to keep in contact with the participants over the two years of the study see the following articles: