This is the third report from a longitudinal project looking at the impacts of welfare reform on individuals and communities in the London Borough of Newham. By following the same set of individuals over time, this project allows us to see how people are affected by welfare reform. The research follows a cohort of respondents who were affected by multiple changes to the welfare system, and offers a valuable insight into how people are coping and reacting to these changes. It also sets out a set of practicable recommendations that, if taken forward, could help people to become more ready and resilient, able to seize opportunities and progress in life.
Overwhelmingly, the reforms have made people feel insecure and vulnerable to even small changes in income or circumstance, continuing to erode resilience. Furthermore, by forcing people into stressful situations where day-today survival becomes a priority, they are eroding people’s readiness. People are caught between trying to escape welfare reform through employment and feeling trapped in poverty. They move in and out of work - susceptible to shocks and unprepared for the future. Careful balancing of budgets and borrowing money from family and friends has enabled some to muddle through, but others are increasingly stuck in unsustainable situations, facing challenges which they cannot resolve.