Digital Welfare

This research periodically operated on a pro-bono basis. From October 2016 for a period of 3 months, The University of Leeds EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account and The University of Leeds ESRC Impact Acceleration Account funded some impact acceleration. The project name for this phase of work was: 'Unlocking the potential of administrative ‘Big Data’ for improving local authority policy making: future-proofing the local welfare state'. From February to July 2014 some of this work was funded as part of the RCUK Digital Economy Communitites and Culture Network+ under the theme of Communities and Culture. Previously this work was supported by the ESRC Talisman Project - a node of the National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM).

Final report

The work involved a combined qualitative and quantitative analysis of welfare benefits, welfare reform and advice geographies in contemporary Leeds. Interviews and focus groups were part of the qualitative work undertaken in 2014. This work was reported in an interim report.

The researched focused on digitalisation and aimed to look at the impacts of contemporary welfare policy changes on both service users and service providers. Digitalisation refers to how access to benefits and advice and the interface between service users and providers was becoming more online and computerised and less face to face and human. The research helped to better understand the distribution and demand for advice services and the changing economic geography of housing benefit and council tax relief claims. Advice agency client data was mapped and analysed spatially to examine the changing supply and demand for advice over time in the Leeds City Region. Housing Benefit and Council Tax Relief claims data were mapped and explored in relation to the distribution of formal advice agency client data and census data (in particular measures of deprivation).

The research explored residential movements of Housing Benefit populations in the Leeds Local Authority District from 2008 with a particular focus on those effected by under-occupancy with respect to the 'Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy' or 'Bedroom Tax' from April 2013.

Digital Welfare Project Google Docs Master Document