account arrow-down-linearrow-down-small arrow-downarrow-download arrow-left-small arrow-leftarrow-link arrow-rightarrow-upaudio-less-volume audio-not-playing audio-plus-volume audio awarded books calendar close-modal closedate delete document education emailevent Facebookhamburger impact instagramjustice linkedin location-outline location opinion page phonepinterestplay pluspost preview project reports search-bigsearch-old search 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

    New

    Welfare | 2020 - 2023

    Public expenditure planning and control in complex times

    View project
    New

    Welfare | 2020 - 2022

    How UK welfare reform affects larger families

    View project
    New

    Education | Welfare | 2020 - 2020

    Measuring the disadvantage attainment gap in 16-19 education

    View project
    Two teenage male pupils study a science lesson as part of their post-16 options
    In progress

    Education | 2019 - 2021

    Post-16 pathways: the role of peers, family background and expectations

    View project
    In progress

    Education | 2019 - 2022

    The SWAN game-based approach to learning foundational number language

    View project
    In progress

    Welfare | 2019 - 2022

    Children living with domestic violence: effects on children’s well-being

    View project
    In progress

    Education | 2019 - 2020

    Education priorities in a forthcoming general election

    View project
    In progress

    Welfare | 2019 - 2022

    Ethnic inequalities in later life

    View project
    In progress

    Welfare | 2019 - 2022

    The effect of Community Mental Health Services in England

    View project
    In progress

    Welfare | 2019 - 2022

    Caregiving dads, breadwinning mums: Transforming gender in work and childcare?

    View project
    In progress

    Welfare | 2019 - 2021

    Living with data: knowledge, experiences and perceptions of data practices

    View project
    In progress

    Welfare | 2019 - 2020

    Planning for revisions to UK government expenditure plans

    View project
    New

    Welfare | 2020 - 2023

    Public expenditure planning and control in complex times

    View project
    New

    Welfare | 2020 - 2022

    How UK welfare reform affects larger families

    View project
    New

    Education | Welfare | 2020 - 2020

    Measuring the disadvantage attainment gap in 16-19 education

    View project
    Two teenage male pupils study a science lesson as part of their post-16 options
    In progress

    Education | 2019 - 2021

    Post-16 pathways: the role of peers, family background and expectations

    View project
    In progress

    Education | 2019 - 2020

    Education priorities in a forthcoming general election

    View project
    In progress

    Welfare | 2019 - 2022

    Children living with domestic violence: effects on children’s well-being

    View project
    In progress

    Education | 2019 - 2022

    The SWAN game-based approach to learning foundational number language

    View project
    Reported

    Welfare | 2013 - 2017

    IFS Green Budget 2013 – 2016

    View project
    Reported

    Education | 2017 - 2018

    Growing up digital

    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
    New

    Welfare | 2020 - 2023

    Public expenditure planning and control in complex times

    View project
    New

    Welfare | 2020 - 2022

    How UK welfare reform affects larger families

    View project
    New

    Education | Welfare | 2020 - 2020

    Measuring the disadvantage attainment gap in 16-19 education

    View project
    Two teenage male pupils study a science lesson as part of their post-16 options
    In progress

    Education | 2019 - 2021

    Post-16 pathways: the role of peers, family background and expectations

    View project
    In progress

    Welfare | 2019 - 2022

    Ethnic inequalities in later life

    View project
    In progress

    Education | 2019 - 2022

    The SWAN game-based approach to learning foundational number language

    View project
    In progress

    Welfare | 2019 - 2022

    Children living with domestic violence: effects on children’s well-being

    View project
    In progress

    Education | 2019 - 2020

    Education priorities in a forthcoming general election

    View project
    In progress

    Welfare | 2019 - 2022

    The effect of Community Mental Health Services in England

    View project
    In progress

    Welfare | 2019 - 2022

    Caregiving dads, breadwinning mums: Transforming gender in work and childcare?

    View project
    In progress

    Welfare | 2019 - 2021

    Living with data: knowledge, experiences and perceptions of data practices

    View project
    In progress

    Welfare | 2019 - 2020

    Valuing data: foundations for data policy

    View project
    Reported

    Welfare | 2018 - 2018

    Interdisciplinary conference on evidence use in policy

    View project
    Reported

    Welfare | 2018 - 2018

    Council tax support schemes’ impact on claimants & local authorities

    View project
    Reported

    Welfare | 2018 - 2018

    Improving survey representation of non-resident parents

    View project
    Reported

    Education | 2017 - 2018

    Growing up digital

    View project
    Reported

    Justice | Welfare | 2017 - 2018

    Addressing the ‘care cases’ crisis: a sector-led review

    View project
    Reported

    Welfare | 2017 - 2018

    Vulnerable migrants and well-being: A pilot study

    View project
    Reported

    Welfare | 2017 - 2018

    Benchmarking transparency in government’s use of evidence

    View project
    Reported

    Welfare | 2017 - 2017

    General Election 2017

    View project
    Siblings play ball in a playground - Siblings Contact and the Law
    Reported

    Justice | Welfare | 2017 - 2019

    Siblings, contact and the law: an overlooked relationship?

    View project
    Reported

    Welfare | 2017 - 2019

    Asylum policies in Europe and the refugee crisis

    View project
    Reported

    Justice | Welfare | 2017 - 2019

    Measuring outcomes for children’s social care services

    View project
    Reported

    Welfare | 2017 - 2018

    The distribution and dynamics of economic and social well-being in the UK

    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