Liverpool funded local welfare schemes evaluation
Evaluation in progress. Expected completion date Summer 2024
What does the research mean for Local Authorities?
The evaluation will focus on understanding how people enter and move within the welfare system, equity in access and uptake of the initiatives and identifying how uptake may impact health inequalities, and the cost of delivering welfare.
We will undertake a more in-depth evaluation of the LCSS, which is of particular interest because it is tailored to the needs of residents who are experiencing a crisis. For the LCSS, we will undertake a programme of work to understand the impact of the scheme on service users’ health and wellbeing.
The findings from the evaluation will be used by Liverpool City Council to inform the delivery of the BMT, DHPs and LCSS going forward. Nationally, there will be interest in the findings as learnings will likely be of relevance to the delivery of similar schemes by local authorities elsewhere
What does the evaluation research mean for the Public?
The evaluation will provide increased understanding of the Liverpool welfare system that can contribute further investment / disinvestment decisions over the longer term. The current cost of living crisis and associated financial hardship for communities most affected accentuates the relevance of this research for policy and practice.
How are the public involved in the evaluation??
Public involvement is embedded in PHIRST LiLaC’s work and activities through the PHIRST LiLaC Public Adviser Panel. This panel meets regularly and is responsible for reviewing involvement processes, and providing advice on engagement and involvement plans across the PHIRST LiLaC team and its research.
Public advisers on the panel are contributing their expertise and experience around developing and conducting public health evaluations, rather than having direct lived experience of accessing the local welfare system to be evaluated.
The PHIRST LiLaC Public Adviser Panel will also work closely with PHIRST researchers, advising on the recruitment and conduct of interviews with scheme service users as well as ethical and safeguarding considerations. They will also be actively involved in analysis and interpretation of data from interviews.
We will work closely with community organisations who work with and support people who access the local welfare schemes to be evaluated. This will help us to understand the local context and to develop effective and acceptable approaches to carrying out interviews with people accessing the local welfare system.
Lay summary of research
Welfare schemes provide financial or in-kind support (e.g. furniture, domestic appliances, and shopping vouchers) to those most in need. This includes those who are unemployed or looking for work, those with low earnings, raising children, retried, caring for someone, or who have a long-term illness or disability. They also support those who are vulnerable due to circumstance, for example due to recently leaving prison, those experiencing domestic abuse, or those who have endured a crisis such as a fire or flood. The aim of welfare schemes is to reduce financial hardship and therefore improve health and wellbeing. Their wider objective is to reduce expenditure on public services such as the NHS, homelessness services, or social care organisations.
We will look at three schemes:
Benefits Maximisation Team (BMT)
The BMT consists of specialist advisors that provide advice and support to Liverpool residents. The team helps people to claim benefits and wider support, and they also provide assistance with representation at benefit tribunals. The team receives referrals from council departments, external organisations, and residents of Liverpool. They also work with the Adult Services Department to maximise benefit to those who must pay for social care.
Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs)
DHPs were introduced in 2001 and provide financial support to people who need extra help with rent or housing costs when their Housing Benefit or Universal Credit does not fully cover these.
Liverpool Citizens Support Scheme (LCSS)
LCSS was launched in 2013 and provides support to people with no immediate funds, for example when they are in the process of applying for a state benefit payment or after an unforeseen crisis event.
The evaluation aims to understand: i) how people engage with the welfare system, ii) how equity of access to and uptake of welfare schemes may impact health inequalities, and iii) the impact that welfare provision has on service users’ health and wellbeing.
The aims and objectives are:
- To examine equity of access to and uptake of welfare schemes and how this may impact health inequalities.
- To examine how characteristics are associated with subsequent pathways that are taken through the welfare system and the implications for inequalities in access.
- To assess the cost of delivering welfare schemes and examine how spending levels vary with demand for welfare provision.
- To understand the impact of welfare provision on service users’ health and wellbeing.
Liverpool City Council
PHIRST LiLaC Research Team
Dr Emma Coombes
Prof Ben Barr
Dr Emma Halliday
Dr Michelle Collins
Prof Bruce Hollingsworth
PHIRST LiLaC Public Advisers
*All PHIRST LiLaC members input into every project