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Welfare policy research

Welfare and benefits forms the largest area of advice we deliver at Citizens Advice. This gives us some of the clearest insights into the way in which the system works and the challenges it poses.

Our research is focused on using our data and expertise to make the case for a system which is more responsive to the needs and circumstances of its users. This includes helping policymakers understand the impact of changes, working for better service design and highlighting the importance of robust advice and support.

Find out about all our welfare policy work.

Targeting support when energy bills rise in April

17 January 2022

On April 1st 2022 under current plans, the energy price cap will increase by a predicted 57% to £2,000, bringing annual energy bills to a level we haven’t seen in many of our lifetimes. We’ve analysed the different policy options on the table and recommended four steps to deal with the challenge over the coming year.

How to protect consumers as energy prices rise

07 January 2022

The cost of living crisis has been growing in scale and impact over the last six months, with inflation reaching historic levels and yet to peak. Citizens Advice has proposed an immediate support package to reduce pressure on energy consumers and boost incomes for those in need.

How do I survive now? The impact of living with No Recourse to Public Funds

02 December 2021

‘How do I survive now?’ shows the widespread harm caused by the no recourse to public funds (NRPF) policy. It provides some ways in which the policy can be improved, but ultimately concludes that the best way to address the damage caused by the policy is to remove the condition from all those who are habitually resident in the UK.

Roadblock to recovery: Why the rules in Universal Credit are creating barriers to work

09 June 2021

Universal Credit is facing its biggest challenge yet - to support record numbers of people into sustainable work. But without reform, the rules in Universal Credit risk creating barriers to work for some people. In this report, we outline 3 aspects of Universal Credit that need fixing to ensure an equitable recovery from this crisis.

Life on less than zero

13 October 2020

In this report we show the impact of coronavirus on the finances of people we help with debt. We outline measures that the Government should take to avoid a national household debt crisis and support the UK’s longer-term economic recovery.

Financial support during the Covid-19 pandemic - a proposal for a Crisis Minimum Income

18 March 2020

As the country turns its resources to responding to the Covid-19 pandemic it is crucial that households are protected from severe financial hardship. People need to receive a Crisis Minimum Income of at least £180 a week to have enough money to cover the bare essentials - so they can protect their own health and the health of others. We’ve set out how we have arrived at this number but also the key mechanisms and actions needed to deliver it. We have previously published a range of other measures giving wider protections to renters, support for those in debt and help to pay essential bills, which support this proposal.

Helping people through the Covid-19 pandemic

16 March 2020

We’ve written a paper detailing proposals that we believe the Government should be considering to temporarily improve social protection capacity and regulation to strengthen our safety net and help smooth disruption to the economy that could follow from this crisis.

Achieving income security for all

01 September 2019

Our benefits system exists to provide a financial safety net for people. Yet many people on benefits are struggling to make ends meet and pay for essentials.

Managing Money on Universal Credit

06 February 2019

Our research finds changes made by the government have made a difference for people waiting for their first Universal Credit payment - but lots of people are still struggling.

Making a Universal Credit Claim

22 July 2018

While Universal Credit is working for the majority, there is a significant minority of people having problems - many of whom are in vulnerable situations and most in need of support.