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First evidence on overall impact of welfare reform across Britain

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New research by Sheffield Hallam University documents for the first time the impact of the welfare reforms on local areas across the whole of Britain.

The research, which is covered extensively in the Financial Times (Thursday April 11 and 12) provides comprehensive figures for each of Britain’s 379 local authority districts. An interactive map is also available on, whereby people can see how welfare reforms will impact them, area by area.

The research shows that when the welfare reforms have come into full effect they will take almost £19bn a year out of the economy.  But the impact of the reforms varies a lot from place to place.

The worst affected places face financial losses that are twice the national average and four times as much as the least affected places.

Britain’s older industrial areas, a number of seaside towns and some London boroughs are hit hardest.  Much of the south and east of England outside London escapes comparatively lightly.

The biggest losers include places such as Middlesbrough, Liverpool, Glasgow, Blackpool and Merthyr Tydfil.   Wealthier areas such as Cambridge, Surrey and the Cotswolds will not see incomes squeezed as much.

The three regions of northern England alone can expect to lose around £5.2bn a year in benefit income.

As a general rule, the more deprived the local authority, the greater the financial hit.

Professor Steve Fothergill from Sheffield Hallam's Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, who undertook the study with colleague Professor Tina Beatty, said: “A key effect of the welfare reforms will be to widen the gaps in prosperity between the best and worst local economies across Britain.

"Our figures also show the Coalition government is presiding over national welfare reforms that will impact principally on individuals and communities outside its own political heartlands.”

Photographs by Richard Hanson
Photographs by Richard Hanson
Photographs by Richard Hanson
Photographs by Richard Hanson
Steve Fothergill and Tina Beatty

Click to view the images

Chris Giles, Financial Times economics editor said: "The research highlights important policy implications of the welfare reforms. Issues such as the long term impact on the welfare bill and the public's general lack of knowledge surrounding the cuts must be addressed by policy makers.”

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The full report by Christina Beatty and Steve Fothergill, 'Hitting the Poorest Places Hardest: the local and regional impact of welfare reform,' is available to download now. 

The dataset underpinning the report is also available, which includes local figures for each of the welfare reforms in every district.

The new research has been co-funded by Sheffield Hallam University, the Scottish Parliament, and the Financial Times (by a grant from the Pulitzer Centre on Crisis Reporting in Washington).

The main photograph here is by Sheffield photographer Richard Hanson.