account arrow-down-linearrow-down-small arrow-downarrow-download arrow-left-small arrow-leftarrow-link arrow-rightarrow-upawarded books calendar close-modal closedate delete document education emailevent facebookhamburger impact instagramjustice linkedin location-outline location opinion page phonepinterestplay plusplyr-pause plyr-play post preview project publication reports search-bigsearch share star-full star-open startime twitterwelfare youtube zoom-in zoom-out

How UK welfare reform affects larger families

Researchers: Dr Ruth Patrick | Dr Aaron Reeves ...

Project overview


This project examines how the risk of poverty for larger families has changed as a result of recent benefit reforms, and the effect of these changes on family decision-making and well-being.

Larger families, those with three or more children, have always faced a disproportionate risk of poverty.  The benefits cap (which limits the income a household can receive in benefits out of work) and the two-child limit (which restricts eligibility for child related benefits for the first two children, except where limited exemptions apply) break the link between needs and entitlement in the social security system and disproportionately affect single parent households and certain religious and ethnic groups. Larger families with very young children face significant increases in poverty, which is a particular concern due to the importance of early years for longer-term child outcomes. Set against this context, there is a pressing need to understand the impact of these benefit changes on larger families: the primary objective of this project.

Using a multi-methods approach, this project will seek to answer three questions:

  • How has the profile of poverty been affected by the two-child limit and benefits cap?
  • How are families coping?
  • Has their wider well-being been harmed?
  • Data from the Labour Force Survey, Family Resources Survey, the British Household Panel Study and Understanding Society will be used to describe the risk and depth of poverty among larger families, as well as their geographic, social and ethnic characteristics, and how this has changed over time. A qualitative longitudinal study will be carried out with primary caregivers in 44 affected larger families in London and Bradford, Three waves of interviews will generate early evidence of behavioural changes and develop a dynamic picture over time, through which it will be possible to contrast families’ expectations of how they will cope, with what actually occurs. Innovative quantitative methods will be used to explore the impact of the policies on parental mental health and the self-reported well-being of children in affected families.

    The project also includes participatory elements. The research team will work with members of larger families living in poverty to discuss policy recommendations, and to explore together the data which emerges from the quantitative analyses.

    The findings from this research will enable better understanding of welfare reform’s impact on larger families and contribute to the evidence base on the impact of separating benefit from need, for future social welfare policy. The Child Poverty Action Group will be working with the project team throughout to support policy engagement and the widespread dissemination of findings.

    Team


    • Dr Ruth Patrick
      University of York
    • Dr Aaron Reeves
      University of Oxford
    • Dr Kitty Stewart
      London School of Economics and Political Science
    • Josie Tucker
      Child Poverty Action Group

    • Alex Beer
      Senior Consultant, Welfare
      Nuffield Foundation

    Explore our projects

    Girl with mum reading School availability parental labour supply and family wellbeing
    New

    Welfare | 2020 - 2021

    COVID-19 and school availability: impact on parental labour supply and well-being

    View project
    New

    Welfare | 2020 - 2022

    Pension saving over the lifecycle

    View project
    Medical-professional-massages-patient-knee-Understanding-joint-replacement-surgery-decision-making-for-older-patients-PROJ
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2023

    Supporting older patients to make informed decisions about knee surgery

    View project
    Older-man-reads-textbook-Assembling-data-jigsaw-Greater-Manchester-PROJ
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2024

    Assembling the data jigsaw: powering robust population research in MSK disease

    View project
    Woman-medical-professional-treats-patient-impact-MSK-conditions-outcomes-other-illnesses-PROJ
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2022

    The impact of musculoskeletal conditions on outcomes of other illnesses

    View project
    Female-nurse-sees-patient-in-office-Integrating-enriched-longitudinal-data-North-Staffordshire-Stoke-on-Trent-PROJ
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2025

    Enriched data integration for population musculoskeletal health intelligence

    View project
    Older-man-and-woman-walk-together-Geographical-mapping-prevalence-outcomes-MSK-conditions-Wales-Scotland-PROJ
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2022

    Mapping rheumatic and musculoskeletal disease in Scotland and Wales

    View project
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2022

    Older people in England: the geography of challenges and opportunities

    View project
    Toddler-gleefully-eats-baked-beans-How-COVID-19-is-affecting-food-security-proj
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2021

    How the COVID-19 crisis is affecting food security

    View project
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2022

    Vulnerability, migration and well-being: experiences, perceptions and barriers

    View project
    Senior-woman-enjoys-video-call-on-smartphone-Social-cohesion-in-context-of-COVID-19-PROJ
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2021

    Social cohesion in the context of COVID-19

    View project
    Woman-looks-at-smartphone-screen-How-the-UK-public-gets-information-about-COVID-19-PROJ
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2020

    How the UK public gets information about COVID-19

    View project
    New

    Welfare | 2020 - 2022

    Pension saving over the lifecycle

    View project
    Girl with mum reading School availability parental labour supply and family wellbeing
    New

    Welfare | 2020 - 2021

    COVID-19 and school availability: impact on parental labour supply and well-being

    View project
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2022

    Vulnerability, migration and well-being: experiences, perceptions and barriers

    View project
    Toddler-gleefully-eats-baked-beans-How-COVID-19-is-affecting-food-security-proj
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2021

    How the COVID-19 crisis is affecting food security

    View project
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2022

    Older people in England: the geography of challenges and opportunities

    View project
    Senior-woman-enjoys-video-call-on-smartphone-Social-cohesion-in-context-of-COVID-19-PROJ
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2021

    Social cohesion in the context of COVID-19

    View project
    Teenage-girl-looks-at-smartphone-next-to-laptop-Growing-up-under-COVID-19-PROJ
    In progress

    Education | Welfare | 2020 - 2021

    Growing up under COVID-19

    View project
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2022

    COVID-19 social study

    View project
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2021

    COVID realities: families on low incomes during the pandemic

    View project
    Woman-looks-at-smartphone-screen-How-the-UK-public-gets-information-about-COVID-19-PROJ
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2020

    How the UK public gets information about COVID-19

    View project
    Woman-medical-professional-treats-patient-impact-MSK-conditions-outcomes-other-illnesses-PROJ
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2022

    The impact of musculoskeletal conditions on outcomes of other illnesses

    View project
    Man-massages-own-hand-Longitudinal-evidence-how-arthritis-affects-earnings-PROJ
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2022

    How arthritis affects earnings over time

    View project
    New

    Welfare | 2020 - 2022

    Pension saving over the lifecycle

    View project
    Girl with mum reading School availability parental labour supply and family wellbeing
    New

    Welfare | 2020 - 2021

    COVID-19 and school availability: impact on parental labour supply and well-being

    View project
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2022

    Vulnerability, migration and well-being: experiences, perceptions and barriers

    View project
    Toddler-gleefully-eats-baked-beans-How-COVID-19-is-affecting-food-security-proj
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2021

    How the COVID-19 crisis is affecting food security

    View project
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2022

    Older people in England: the geography of challenges and opportunities

    View project
    Senior-woman-enjoys-video-call-on-smartphone-Social-cohesion-in-context-of-COVID-19-PROJ
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2021

    Social cohesion in the context of COVID-19

    View project
    Teenage-girl-looks-at-smartphone-next-to-laptop-Growing-up-under-COVID-19-PROJ
    In progress

    Education | Welfare | 2020 - 2021

    Growing up under COVID-19

    View project
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2022

    COVID-19 social study

    View project
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2021

    COVID realities: families on low incomes during the pandemic

    View project
    Woman-looks-at-smartphone-screen-How-the-UK-public-gets-information-about-COVID-19-PROJ
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2020

    How the UK public gets information about COVID-19

    View project
    Woman-medical-professional-treats-patient-impact-MSK-conditions-outcomes-other-illnesses-PROJ
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2022

    The impact of musculoskeletal conditions on outcomes of other illnesses

    View project
    Man-massages-own-hand-Longitudinal-evidence-how-arthritis-affects-earnings-PROJ
    In progress

    Welfare | 2020 - 2022

    How arthritis affects earnings over time

    View project
    Reported

    Welfare | 2013 - 2017

    IFS Green Budget 2013 – 2016

    View project
    Reported

    Welfare | 2013 - 2016

    Data about fathers in birth cohort studies (Life Study)

    View project
    Reported

    Welfare | 2017 - 2017

    General Election 2017

    View project
    Reported

    Justice | Welfare | 2015 - 2018

    Bridging the Evidence Gap in Family Proceedings

    View project
    Reported

    Welfare | 2018 - 2018

    Interdisciplinary conference on evidence use in policy

    View project
    Reported

    Welfare | 2019 - 2020

    Valuing data: foundations for data policy

    View project
    Reported

    Welfare | 2018 - 2019

    Overview of the major ethical issues arising from data, algorithms and AI

    View project
    Reported

    Welfare | 2015 - 2016

    Our world in data

    View project
    Reported

    Welfare | 2011 - 2013

    Smoking: behavioural economics and public policy

    View project
    Reported

    Welfare | 2014 - 2018

    Antiretroviral adherence among HIV+ adolescents in Southern Africa

    View project
    Reported

    Welfare | 2004 - 2007

    The Governance of Parliament 2004 – 2007

    View project
    Reported

    Education | Welfare | 2013 - 2019

    Neglected tropical diseases

    View project
    Search projects

    We aim to improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

    We are an open, collaborative and engaged funder that offers more than money. Through connecting the individual projects we fund, we strengthen their collective impact and give voice to an overarching narrative.

    Profile