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Universal simplicity? The alleged simplicity of Universal Credit from administrative and claimant perspectives

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A key aim of Universal Credit is to simplify the social security system. While several aspects of its introduction have received critical attention, this overarching aim continues to receive acceptance and support. Drawing on two empirical studies involving means-tested benefit claimants, we aim to deconstruct the idea of ‘simplicity’ as a feature of social security design and argue that it is contingent on perspective. We suggest that claims of simplicity can often be justified from an administrative perspective but are not experienced as such from the perspective of claimants, who instead can face greater responsibility for managing complexity.
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Keywords: Universal Credit; qualitative methods; simplicity; welfare reform

Affiliations: 1: London School of Economics and Political Science, UK 2: University of Bath, UK

Appeared or available online: February 10, 2020

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