The social impact of accounting processes on benefit claimants in the UK

Smith, Julia A. and Doolan, Elena (2020) The social impact of accounting processes on benefit claimants in the UK. Journal of Human Rights and Social Work, 5 (2). pp. 64-77. ISSN 2365-1792 (

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The accounting processes of categorisation and classification are inherent in modern-day welfare systems, though little has been done to investigate the link these have to the social consequences for benefit claimants within these systems. This paper uses research from both primary and secondary sources to show how UK welfare reform has affected claimants and their inalienable human rights since its introduction in 2012. The data gathered for this work combine face-to-face interview data with press releases, and data and reports compiled and published both by the government and independent bodies. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with two illustrative participants, who were identified as being excellent examples of individuals with a close working knowledge of the welfare system. In addition to the primary data gathered, several sources of secondary data are used within the analysis to identify facts, figures and quotations from reliable government sources. Our analysis uncovers that the accounting processes inherent in the system have helped foster a culture of stigmatisation, food bank dependency and financial and emotional hardship for vulnerable welfare claimants in today’s society.


Smith, Julia A. ORCID logoORCID: and Doolan, Elena;