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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?


We are currently funding research, development and analysis projects, with a focus on:

  • Household and family dynamics, including trends in household composition, children’s well-being, the relationship between employment choices and tax, housing and welfare policies, and the impact of chronic illness, disability and mental ill health.
  • Causes of labour market, economic and social outcomes and how these relate to living standards and individual and collective well-being.
  • Digital and other technologies, including how they alleviate, exacerbate and shift vulnerability, and affect concepts of trust, evidence and authority.
  • Intergenerational issues and welfare later in life, such as how social and economic outcomes are changing within and between generations and the determinants of inequalities in later life..
  • Geographical inequalities, including how location, neighbourhoods and communities can shape people’s lives and their vulnerability to risk.
  • We also fund research into musculoskeletal conditions through our Oliver Bird Fund.

Our team


  • Catherine Dennison
    Programme Head, Welfare
  • Alex Beer
    Senior Consultant, 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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See our impact

Welfare projects

In progress

Welfare | 2019 – 2020

Revaluation and reform: bringing council tax into the 21st century

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In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2019 – 2021

Girls and women with experience of care and the criminal justice system

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In progress

Education | Welfare | 2019 – 2020

Private sector childcare in England

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In progress

Welfare | 2019 – 2021

Me and my big data: developing citizens’ data literacy

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In progress

Welfare | 2019 – 2023

Inequalities in the twenty-first century

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In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2018 – 2020

The implementation of new rules and guidance for permanent foster care

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In progress

Welfare | 2018 – 2020

An intergenerational audit of the UK

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In progress

Education | Welfare | 2018 – 2020

‘First in family’: higher education choices and labour market outcomes

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In progress

Welfare | 2018 – 2021

Opening the black box: towards a transparent and widely-used tax-benefit model for the UK

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In progress

Education | Welfare | 2018 – 2021

Talking Together: language support at home for parents of 2 year olds

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In progress

Welfare | 2018 – 2021

IFS Green Budget 2018 – 2021

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In progress

Welfare | 2018 – 2020

The intergenerational transmission of family wealth

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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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