Written evidence from the Bright Blue CLP0030


About Bright Blue:


Bright Blue is an independent think tank for liberal conservatism. We defend and improve liberal society. Our primary role is to create and vet government policy. We are a respected and leading think tank – as well as a membership organisation – which delivers an extensive programme of research, publications and events. Our thinking and ideas have had significant influence on public debate and government policy. 


Our work is guided by seven research themes: bountiful economy; clean environment; good lives; rewarding work; empowering government; just institutions; and, connected communities. We repeatedly produce high-quality, high-profile research and events.


Some of our work relating to the social security system include our 2019 report Helping Hand and our 2023 report, which the evidence below has been taken from, Building Up: The future of social security.


This report, which the evidence below has been taken from, examines the adequacy, accessibility and fairness of the UK’s social security system for working-age adults in low-income households before and during the pandemic, before proposing three major policies to strengthen social security. The below evidence relates to the social security system in the UK as a whole.


The answer to the following question has been taken from Bright Blue’s 2023 report Building up: The future of social security, which can be accessed here. 


3. How has the Department’s ad-hoc payment system and its design and use benefitted or limited the delivery of cost of living support?


Through our polling, we find that a majority (57%) of the UK public agree that “there is a large number of people who should receive benefits, but are not claiming them”. Our focus groups identified a number of reasons behind this: the complexity of the benefits system; poor signposting by government services; a dearth of information available to the public, with some going as far as saying that the government deliberately makes it hard to claim benefits.


In terms of process, focus group participants were more likely to identify stigma stemming from the inflexibility and negative behaviour of DWP staff as a greater difficulty than any complexity in the application process itself, noting that a claimant’s experience could be highly dependent on the member of staff they might deal with. Some also discussed negative and stigmatising feelings caused by burdensome or extensive requirements to submit documentation in order to access benefits. 




May 2023