Sanctions, Support and Behaviour Change: Understanding the Role and Impact of Welfare Conditionality

Project Director: Professor Peter Dwyer (University of York) and Professor Del Roy Fletcher (Sheffield Hallam University)
Project Duration: 2013-2017

The use of conditional welfare arrangements that combine elements of sanction and support in order to influence the behaviour of welfare recipients has become an established component of welfare, housing, criminal justice and immigration policies. CRESR at Sheffield Hallam University, in collaboration with Glasgow, Heriot-Watt, Sheffield and York universities, has been awarded an ESRC large grant to conduct a major study on the efficacy and ethicality of conditional welfare policies. This five year project creates a collaborative, international and interdisciplinary focal point for social science research on welfare conditionality by establishing an original and comprehensive evidence base across a range of social policy fields and diverse groups of welfare service users.

The study, led by Professor Peter Dwyer, University of York, will be informed by a comprehensive review of relevant academic literature, statistical data sources and policy documents, an international expert seminar series and consultation workshops with welfare service users and practitioners. The main fieldwork components comprise:

  • 40 semi-structured interviews with 'elite' policy makers and actors.
  • 24 focus groups with front-line practitioners who implement policy.
  • 1,440 repeated qualitative interviews with a diverse sample of 480 welfare service users subject to welfare conditionality i.e. this longitudinal element of the study will involve interviewing each participant three times over a two-year period.

Fieldwork will be undertaken in a variety of locations in England and Scotland. Led by Professor Del Roy Fletcher, the CRESR project team also includes Elaine Batty. CRESR will be involved in all aspects of the project.

The project team also includes: Professor Peter Dwyer (University of Salford), Dr Sharon Wright (University of Stirling), Professor John Flint (University of Sheffield), Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick (Heriot-Watt University) and Dr Sarah Johnsen (Heriot-Watt University).

Project team

Research Fellow, BA (Hons), MA, MA
Professor of Labour Market Studies, BSc (Hons) MSoc Sc


Economic and Social Research Council
Follow us

Bookmark or share this page