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.
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.