QSIG Midday Talk: using qualitative longitudinal research to investigate how Universal Credit impacts claimants with health conditions and disabilities

01 Jul 2024, 12:00 to 13:00
Jar tipped over with copper coins spilling out

“It’s like a psychological torture.”

Steph Morris (Co-authors Marcia Gibson and Mandy Cheetham)

Universal Credit (UC) is the key state benefit for working-age people including those with health conditions and disabilities. Research has shown that the introduction of UC created increased mental distress, and that UC may be particularly harmful for those with existing mental and physical health conditions. This study uses qualitative longitudinal research methods to understand the experiences of UC claimants and the mechanisms by which UC impacts on their health. This presentation discusses findings of a longitudinal qualitative study (January 2022-April 2024) with 47 UC claimants who reported mental and/or physical health conditions. Thematic analysis was used to identify patterns in the data relevant to the research questions, and narrative case summaries were created to aid within and cross case longitudinal analysis. This presentation will discuss how the inadequate and insecure UC payments; the work capability assessment process; conditionality and threats of sanctions; interactions with JCP and UC staff and the automated online system all play a role in impacting claimants with health conditions in particularly harmful ways. I reflect on the benefits and the challenges of using a longitudinal methodology to explore and disseminate such policy relevant findings.

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