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21 October - 17 November
FoSS and ESRC logos

Universal Credit is a Trade Union Issue: Getting to grips with in-work conditionality and worker well-being

Smiling woman using a laptop

Lifelong wellbeing theme

Professional audiences

What’s on offer?

This interactive event brings together researchers, trade union activists, welfare rights organisations and other interested parties to consider new policy developments and their implications for supporting worker wellbeing.

The workshop will include: · An overview of recent policy developments relating to Universal Credit and the extension of conditionality to working social security claimants · Insights from the recent ESRC-funded “Universal Credit and Employers” study, focused on key findings and recommendations for trade unions · A presentation from union representatives, highlighting current activism initiatives in response to issues arising for ‘in-work claimants’ of Universal Credit.

A practical workshop where all attendees can (i) share issues emerging for working UC claimants (ii) identify the support union reps need to support members facing such issues (iii) consider policy and practice changes to better support UC claimants in work, alongside the future role of trade unions in welfare reform (iv) develop networks with other support/advice agencies and v) inform the development of future research and campaigning.

What’s it about?

The introduction of Universal Credit (UC) has involved the merging of both in- and out-of-work benefits. 2.3 million UC claimants are in work, 600,000 of whom from September 2023 will be subject to new expectations to engage with Jobcentres and demonstrate efforts to progress in work. Not always included in research and policy debate relating to welfare reform, trade unions are the central focus of this event, as we consider why “Universal Credit is a Trade Union issue”.

Who’s leading the event?

Dr Katy Jones, principal investigator in the project: 'Universal Credit and Employers: Exploring the demand side of UK Active Labour Market Policy', will share key policy findings and recommendations taken from her recent research.

Andy Mitchell and Brett Sparkes from Unite Union in Bristol will talk about the activist work they have been undertaking in the Southwest, to highlight and promote the issues facing low-paid workers, from the insights that they have gained through their members.

Dr Reece Garcia, an industrial relations lecturer at Manchester Met will provide facilitation support throughout the interactive session and Sharlene Farrugia, PhD candidate at the Business and Law School, Manchester Met and Senior Research Assistant on the UC and Employers project will share reflections on the session and discuss her own evolving research.

Open to

This event is open and accessible to all interested parties in welfare reform and democratic employment relations

Of particular interest to

This event aims to specifically target union members and representatives, acknowledging the shift in welfare policy whereby welfare conditionalities are extended to waged workers. However, this event will also consider the union perspective and for the broader sector to gather a deeper understanding of current activities in this space, relevant issues and challenges arising for unionism, and the future role of unionism in welfare reform.

Event booking deadline

If there are any particular access issues, please contact, so that these can be accommodated for.