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Welfare

Our goal is to improve people’s lives through understanding how their welfare – their health, happiness and economic prosperity – is affected by different social and economic factors.

£4.4m

Given in grants for welfare projects in 2018.

30

Welfare projects are currently underway, worth a total value of £8.4m.

Our mission is to advance social well-being; we want people to feel engaged with, and supported by, wider society and to experience a good quality of life, regardless of their background. We fund research and development projects relating to people’s welfare at all stages of life.

Factors such as family, work and income can positively or negatively affect people in different ways. We want to understand how and why that is, and how people are differently affected depending on their class, gender, ethnicity, disability, age, and location.

Where people are disadvantaged, we want to identify what policy changes might address that and how the risks people face can be mitigated.

We also aim to understand the impact of digital technologies on people’s welfare, alongside the work of the Ada Lovelace Institute.

 

Why welfare needs research


  • The gap in Healthy Life Expectancy between local areas in the UK stands at 21.5 years for females and 15.8 years for males. We need to know more about the factors affecting geographical inequalities and how they relate to other types of disadvantage.

  • By 2066 there could be an additional 8.6 million people aged 65 years and over in the UK – a population roughly the size of present-day London. Through our research, we aim to improve understanding of what effect this demographic shift might have on work, pensions, and welfare in later life.

  • 1 in 4 people experience mental health issues each year. People’s health can affect their family and working life and make them vulnerable to financial insecurity and other types of risk. Research on the impact of mental health problems is needed so that we can identify ways to mitigate those risks.

  • Musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis affect 17.8 million people in the UK and are the single biggest cause of pain and disability. Our Oliver Bird Fund aims to improve the lives of people living with musculoskeletal conditions by funding interrelated policy, practice and research activities.

What do we fund in welfare?


Our funding priorities are motivated by how certain individuals and groups are potentially vulnerable to adverse outcomes, and how those risks can be mitigated, or channelled  more positively.  Mitigation will, in turn, involve drawing on resources, broadly defined to include financial and physical assets such as money and housing but also less tangible factors such as practical and emotional support. Support may come from oneself, such as through saving for the future, or from family, work, community and the state. The extent to which vulnerability can be mitigated will vary according to individual and group characteristics including age, gender, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation. Applications are welcome in all of these areas, but we are particularly interested in:

  • How these different sources of support interact with major social, economic and technological forces that are shaping our society. For example, how new technologies can alleviate, exacerbate and shift vulnerability, and affect concepts of trust, evidence, and authority.
  • Research into how family, work, and the intersection of the two will affect individual and societal well-being in the coming years. These topics link strongly to other core domains of Education and Justice and we are also interested in projects which explore the intersections between these domains.
  • What types of economic policies and systems would best enhance individual and societal well-being and challenge existing inequalities, as society adjusts to turbulent and uncertain growth in the economy, earnings and productivity in the post-COVID-19 world?
  • How will the costs and benefits of the transition to a net zero-emissions economy be shared fairly across the population and across generations?
  • How can we better understand the economic determinants of health outcomes and their impact on social well-being, both in the current context and in the face of long-term demographic trends?
  • We also fund research into musculoskeletal conditions through our Oliver Bird Fund.

Our team


  • Programme Head, Welfare
  • Alex Beer
    Senior Consultant, Welfare

  • Mark-Franks-Nuffield-Foundation-Together-alone-connecting-individual-and-collective-well-being-through-our-work-in-welfare
    Director, Welfare
Our impact in welfare
See our impact
01

Through funding of the IFS Green Budget, we facilitate a comprehensive assessment of the state of the public finances, the key economic questions facing the government, and the options for public policy. Not only is the Green Budget influential on policy, it also stimulates public debate, primarily through the media, and was described by one journalist as a ‘gift to the nation’.

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02

Leading yoghurt brand Muller halved the sugar content in its children’s corner range after the Food Foundation featured it as a case study in its Nuffield-funded Force-Fed report. The report was also influential in the Government’s decision to introduce a tax on sugary drinks.

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03

The Health Ageing in Scotland Study is the first comprehensive Scottish study to follow older people over time and will be useful in improving the health and well-being of older people in Scotland. We co-funded the study, which is part of the Health & Retirement study family of longitudinal ageing studies. Together, these studies cover more than half the world’s population aged 50+.

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Welfare projects

2 of 18

In progress

Education | 2020 – 2020

The impact of COVID-19 on mainstream schools in England

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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

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In progress

Welfare | 2020 – 2022

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

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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

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In progress

Welfare | 2020 – 2022

COVID-19 social study

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In progress

Welfare | 2020 – 2021

COVID realities: families on low incomes during the pandemic

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Empty-street-with-cyclist-and-pedestrian-in-distance-Law-and-compliance-during-COVID-19-PROJ
In progress

Justice | 2020 – 2021

Law and compliance during COVID-19

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In progress

Education | 2020 – 2021

Post-16 educational trajectories and social inequalities in political engagement

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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

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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

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Young-boy-wearing-glasses-watches-laptop-school-lesson-with-notepad-The-effects-COVID-19-on-families-time-use-child-development-PROJ
In progress

Education | 2020 – 2022

The effects of COVID-19 on families’ time-use and child development

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In progress

Welfare | 2020 – 2023

Public expenditure planning and control in complex times

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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.

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