Welfare Conditionality: Sanctions, support and behaviour change

Welfare Conditionality: Sanctions, support and behaviour change

The use of conditional welfare arrangements that combine elements of sanction and support is an established element within welfare, housing, criminal justice and immigration systems.

This five year research project  [funded until February 2018] by the Economic and Research Council [ESRC]creates a collaborative, international and interdisciplinary focal point for social science research on welfare conditionality by exploring the efficacy and ethicality of conditionality across a range of social policy fields and diverse groups of welfare service users.

More details are found at Welfare Conditionality website




About our research

We’re studying conditional welfare in the UK. By that we mean two main situations. One is where people’s access to welfare is restricted or stopped – for example, by benefit sanctions or rules. The second, equally important, is welfare support – for example, through family intervention projects or help to find work. Generally with these kinds of sanctions and support, governments aim to get people to change their behaviour. We’re looking into all the effects of sanctions and support on people’s lives.

We want to find out:

  • First, how effective is conditionality in changing the behaviour of those receiving welfare benefits and services?
  • Second, are there any particular circumstances in which the use of conditionality may, or may not be, justifiable?

More about welfare conditionality
Find out more about our team 
Detailed information for researchers

Who’s taking part

People who experience sanctions and support in their everyday lives are central to our research. We’re interviewing nine groups of people: unemployed people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, individuals and households claiming Universal Credit, lone parents, disabled people, social tenants, homeless people, people subject to antisocial behaviour orders or family intervention, migrants and offenders.

Our interviews are with 480 people living in Bath, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Greater Manchester, Inverness, London, Peterborough, Sheffield and Warrington. We’ll interview the same people twice more over time, to see what longer-term effects the sanctions and support are having. Want to take part in our study? Please get in touch if you live in one of these areas. We’ll keep your details confidential.

Other participants

We want to make sure we include a full range of views in our study. So we are also interviewing other groups such as policy makers and practitioners.

You can contribute too. If you’re not already in our study, let us have your comments.

What’s the timescale?

Our project started in 2013 and will finish in 2018. We’re publishing our findings on this site – check News & Events for the latest updates.

Many thanks to everyone who is taking part in this research.

Initial briefing papers

This section contains a set of briefing papers  written by members of the research team. The papers outline the ‘state of play’ in each policy area at the start of the project. Each link will download a pdf file.

Briefing Paper: Anti-social behaviour

Briefing Paper: Disability

Briefing Paper: Homelessness

Briefing Paper: Lone parents

Briefing Paper: Migrants

Briefing Paper: Offenders

Briefing Paper: Social housing

Briefing Paper: Unemployment



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