Welfare at a (Social) Distance

Accessing social security and employment support during the COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath

Welfare at a (Social) Distance is a major national research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to COVID-19.

The benefits system is crucial to supporting people during, and after, the COVID-19 crisis. With a growing number of new claimants, it faces two challenges. Firstly, we need to ensure people quickly get the money they need. Secondly, we also need to make sure that people are helped to quickly return to work or supported further if unable to work.

In this project, we provide vital information on how we are meeting these challenges and, where the system is struggling. This page summarises the project and explains how to keep up with our findings or contact the team.

Surveying claimants

We will conduct an online survey of 7,000 new and existing claimants, starting in May 2020. We will return to these people twice over the next year.

Case studies of claimant support

We will speak to people who provide support to claimants. In each of our case study areas (Leeds, Newham, Salford and Thanet) we will conduct 8-12 interviews with people providing this support (e.g. local authorities, the third sector, employment support providers and others).

Interviewing claimants

We will interview 80 claimants twice (160 interviews in total), beginning in June 2020 and will include a diverse range of experiences.

How will findings be presented?

We are working hard to generate as much open-access raw data as possible in line with broader research efforts around Covid-19. We will also be undertaking:

  • Policy briefings and discussion papers
  • Research reports
  • Virtual policy roundtables
  • Practitioner roundtables

Over the course of the project we will be publishing regular reports, blogs and briefings from the project.

Find out more

For more information on the project, or to contact us with your ideas or personal experiences, please contact the project leadership team, Prof Lisa Scullion at L.Scullion@salford.ac.uk and Dr Ben Baumberg Geiger at B.B.Geiger@kent.ac.uk.

To hear about the findings from the project, please join our mailing list below or follow us at @DistantWelfare.