Couples balancing work, money and care: exploring the shifting landscape under Universal Credit

Project outline

The aim of this ESRC-funded research is to examine the ways in which couples with children make decisions about work and care and manage their household finances in the context of claiming Universal Credit.

The project will:

  • Collect new, qualitative longitudinal data on work/care decisions; intra-household financial management and distribution; and gender roles and relations in couple families with dependent children.
  • Contribute to the literature on employment and care decision-making processes, gender, and strategies for paid and unpaid work and budgeting in low-income households.
  • Explore the policy implications of the findings in relation to Universal Credit, working-age benefits and work-family reconciliation policies more widely, providing insight into the ways in which policies support or undermine choice and gender equality in work, care and couple relationships.

This is a three- year longitudinal, qualitative research study based on a sample of couples and former couples claiming Universal Credit. During the first phase of research (June 2018 to January 2019), 123 face to face interviews were conducted with 90 participants in 53 households across four areas of England and Scotland. A second phase of follow-up interviews, which took place in September and October 2020 with 63 of the 90 participants, explored how the couples and their families had fared in the intervening two years, and in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watch the latest videos from the IPR and ESRC-funded project, 'Couples balancing work, money and care: exploring the shifting landscape under Universal Credit'.

Visit the project page at the University of Bath to find out more.