Financial precarity and child welfare

Studying the link between household benefits, financial precarity and child welfare

Funder: Nuffield Foundation

Value: £298,770

Project Team

  • Rick Hood, Professor of Social Work, Kingston University
  • Deven Ghelani, Chief Executive, Policy in Practice
  • Magda Rossetti-Youlton, Senior Analyst, Policy in Practice
  • Jiangnan Liao, Analyst, Policy in Practice
  • Liam Berriman, Senior Lecturer, University of Sussex
  • Keith Clements, Senior Researcher, NCB
  • Ava Berry, Policy and Research Manager, NCB
  • Chao Wang, Associate Professor, Kingston University

Dates: 1 September 2023 to 28 November 2025

Why this research is important

The sharp rise in the cost of living has put pressure on the finances of millions of families. This could impact the health and wellbeing of children and adults, particularly those living in deprived areas and from minoritised groups.

Recent government reports and an independent review of children's social care have accepted the importance of socio-economic factors as a driver of child safeguarding interventions. However, policies that address risks to children by improving material and socio-economic circumstances are rare, and their impact is not often evaluated.

How the research will be carried out

The research team will use linked operational data, informed by stakeholder voices, to analyse the extent to which, and under what conditions, financial precarity is associated with a higher likelihood of referral to child social care services and subsequent interventions.

The project will be completed in three stages:

  1. Examining the dynamic effects of changes in household income and the cost-of-living on financial precarity and child welfare provision.
  2. Analysing the impact of the 2020-21 Universal Credit uplift on financial precarity, referrals to children's social care, and subsequent interventions.
  3. Investigating stakeholders' experiences of the relationship between financial precarity and child welfare, and their views about the ethical use of data to improve policy and service response.

The research will be carried out in collaboration with six English local authorities.

Further information

Details of our funding can be found on the Nuffield Foundation project page.

Initial findings from a pilot study, carried out in 2022, are discussed in this blogspot.

We would be very happy to talk to interested colleagues and groups about the research. For more information, please email Professor Rick Hood.

Faculty of Health, Science, Social Care and Education