Take-up of benefits and poverty: an evidence and policy review

Document type
Literature review
Finn, Dan; Goodship, Jo
Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion
Date of publication
1 July 2014
Poverty Alleviation Welfare Benefits and Financial Inclusion
Social welfare
Material type

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This review of research literature addresses non-take up of income related benefits and tax credits, and the impact of strategies and interventions designed to improve take-up rates. Improving take-up of means-tested benefits by those in and out of work would make a major contribution to poverty reduction. The increased income associated with greater take-up could also contribute to improvements in other outcomes, such as health, family well-being and employment participation and retention. The most significant factor associated with non-take up appears to be the level and accuracy of knowledge about an entitlement and its eligibility rules, linked with the perceived cash value of the benefit when compared to the effort involved in claiming and maintaining entitlement. Universal Credit is expected to increase benefit take-up, especially among the poorest households, but it seems likely that continuing welfare reforms will have negative effects. The findings point to the value of welfare benefits advice being made available through local, trusted, and more accessible settings, including Children’s Centres, community and voluntary centres, health care locations and, to some extent, through welfare to work providers.

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