A data led investigation into the impact
The Welsh Government wants to understand how Universal Credit is affecting families in Wales.
Research by Policy in Practice will help the Welsh Government make policy decisions to best support local authorities, and their residents, with Universal Credit.
Published in January 2020, the interim report focuses on the impact of Universal Credit on the Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS) and possible amendments to the scheme.
About the research
What are we researching?
The Welsh Government wants to understand how Universal Credit affects:
- Council Tax Reduction levels and caseload
Better understanding will help design a potential future CTR scheme and highlight barriers to claiming council tax support
- Council tax arrears and rent arrears
Moving to Universal Credit may mean changes to people’s income, and their subsequent ability to pay council tax or rent
Greater understanding of these areas will help the Welsh Government to determine additional support provision and future funding needs, as well as how best to support local authorities and their residents.
How are we doing this?
Universal Credit’s impact is likely to vary throughout Wales. Factors like demographics, population density, access to support services and how long Universal Credit has been in place will all play a part.
For this reason, and also to ensure future policy works for all families in Wales, our research will use household and survey data from each local authority in Wales. The results will be useful for every local authority.
For both research strands, Council Tax Reduction and Household arrears, we’ll carry out research in two ways. We will collect and analyse existing household-level datasets held by Welsh local authorities. Plus, we’ll conduct surveys and interviews with a sample of local authorities and residents.
What role do local authorities play?
Local authorities have a critical role to play in building the data store for the research. By collaboratively sharing existing household level data sets and taking part in surveys with residents, you will help to create a powerful evidence base for policy making.
As well as contributing to the country-wide analysis for Wales, local authorities will get individual analysis highlighting local impacts.
What role do housing associations play?
Housing associations have a critical role to play in building the data store for the research.
Your anonymised data on the rent arrears of tenants would be securely collected and combined with the household-level data gathered from local authorities. This crucial information will add to the powerful evidence base we’re building.
In addition to rent arrears data we will invite you and your tenants to complete a short online survey which we’ll follow up with short telephone interviews to explore the impacts of Universal Credit in more detail.
All Welsh authorities are invited to join.
- Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council
- Bridgend County Borough Council
- Caerphilly County Borough Council
- Carmarthenshire County Council
- Ceredigion County Council
- City and County of Swansea
- City of Cardiff Council
- Conwy County Borough Council
- Denbighshire County Council
- Flintshire County Council
- Gwynedd Council
- Isle of Anglesey County Council
- Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council
- Monmouthshire County Council
- Neath Port Talbot Council
- Newport City Council
- Pembrokeshire County Council
- Powys County Council
- Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council
- Torfaen County Borough Council
- Vale of Glamorgan Council
- Wrexham County Borough Council
Most of the datasets that we’ll use to build the Welsh data store for this research are already held by local authorities. These are:
- The Single Household Benefit Extract (SHBE)
- The Council Tax Reduction (CTR) Extract
- Household-level data on council tax arrears
- Household-level data on council rent arrears
For each dataset we need the files for March, June, September and November 2019 in due course.
Surveys and interviews
We’re designing an online feedback survey on Universal Credit, CTR and arrears levels. Local authorities can help us by sending recruitment emails to people who receive Universal Credit (or current benefits, where this is permitted by their Privacy Notice). We’ll use the results to give an aggregate analysis of all council’s survey data, which will be anonymised, creating a national picture of Universal Credit’s impacts across Wales.
Data transfer in 3 steps
1. Sign and submit your DSA
Before you transfer any data to us we must receive a signed GDPR-compliant Data Sharing Agreement (DSA), download here.
The DSA states Policy in Practice’s role as a data processor and references the Social Security (Information-sharing in relation to Welfare Services etc.) Regulations (2012), which provide the legal basis for local authorities to hold, use and, where appropriate, share revenues and benefits administrative data for the purposes of improving local welfare provision.
2. Redact your datasets
All local authorities must redact datasets before sending them, to ensure that Policy in Practice does not receive any personally identifiable information. Information on what variables to redact within each dataset can be found here.
To save you time, we’ve provided MS Excel macros for the benefits and revenues software providers who automate the redaction process. Download yours below or call 0330 088 9242 for guidance.
Any questions on datasets?
We are highly experienced in working with these datasets and routinely receive and analyse them for more than 60 local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales. Please contact us if you have any questions. Call 0330 088 9242 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.