The Employment Research Institute has worked with governments to inform labour policies in Scotland, Northern Ireland and England for over a decade.
The Employment Research Institute at Edinburgh Napier has had a direct, constructive influence on policies to mitigate against the effects of welfare reform. It has done so by working with government and third sector organisations in Scotland.
One way the Employment Research Institute has influenced policy in this area is by providing in-depth evidence on the impact of welfare reform for analysts and policy makers. Between 2013 and 2016 the Employment Research Institute team carried out interviews with those in receipt of working age welfare benefits to explore the impacts of ongoing changes to the welfare system. The welfare changes explored included changes to unemployment, disability and housing benefits, as well as wider reforms such as the replacement of many working age benefits with Universal Credit. The study identified a number of issues creating particular hardship, including negative experiences of the new assessment processes, tightening family budgets due to cuts in support, and a lack of practical assistance (e.g. with childcare and transport) to achieve the increase in employment envisaged as an outcome of welfare reform.
The findings from the study have helped shape the Scottish Government’s position on welfare reform mitigation, presenting rich findings in the context of the research participants’ lives. As a result of the Employment Research Institute’s work on this study, Dr Helen Graham was invited to give evidence to the Scottish Parliament Welfare Reform Committee, and to join the Scottish Government’s expert network on social security, to inform the implementation of the new devolved welfare powers. The study has also had impact on research users, providing evidence to support work of third sector organisations.
Interested in this project and the work of the Employment Research Institute? Contact Dr Helen Graham (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Dr Valerie Egdell (email@example.com).