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Negative impact of welfare conditionality

Reform of the welfare and benefits systems - and in particular the emphasis on trying to change behaviour through sanctions - has had a “profoundly negative effect” on the people that receive them, according to a collaborative study led by the University of York.

The findings from the Welfare Conditionality: Sanctions, Support and Behaviour Change Project are the ‘first wave’ from the ongoing study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Researchers interviewed 480 welfare service users in 2014-2015, of whom more than a third had experienced sanctions. Policy stakeholders and practitioners were also interviewed in what is believed to be the largest current study of its kind. The research will continue until 2018.

The research team from six UK universities also heard negative reports from most service user interviewees about the support they received from Jobcentre Plus or the Work Programme.

Across nine different groups of service users, there was little early evidence of ‘welfare conditionality’ bringing about positive changes in people’s behaviour.

For more information and to read and download the report visit: