No-one left behind

Think tank: IPPR

Author(s): Henry Parkes

April 5, 2022

This report from UK think tank IPPR looks at supporting people with complex needs on universal credit.

For the UK social security system to provide an effective social safety net, it must work for everyone. Navigating the benefits system and the bureaucracy within it can be demanding for those who rely on it. It is not simply a case of ‘signing on’ and receiving a payment; there are significant strings attached. The conditions claimants must meet are supposed to be tailored to the circumstances of the individual. In making decisions, work coaches and other decision-makers are required to exercise discretion: working within the guidance, but ultimately applying their own judgement about what is an appropriate course of action given the circumstances of the person in front of them. This paper examines the role of discretion as exercised by work coaches at Jobcentre Pluses in the experience of people claiming universal credit who are out of work. It forms part of IPPR’s research programme exploring the future of the UK welfare state.