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Driving down unemployment

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Researchers at Sheffield Hallam University have undertaken numerous research projects over the years quantifying hidden unemployment and identifying the extent to which unemployment has been diverted into incapacity benefits.

The research has been at the forefront of academic and policy debates and highlights the importance of recognising geography. This is essential if the much-debated rise in incapacity benefits is to be fully understood. The research undertaken at Sheffield Hallam has informed national policy debates by advancing methodologies, creating analytical tools and generating a substantial evidence base to inform the policy-making process.

Research undertaken at Sheffield Hallam has informed national policy debates by advancing methodologies, creating analytical tools and generating a substantial evidence base to inform the policy-making process.

Traditionally, the ‘claimant count’ was the preferred measure of unemployment in Britain. However, new research identified that this measure underestimated the real level of unemployment and that the diversion of claimants onto incapacity benefits meant that unemployment had become hidden within national statistics, and therefore to government, the policy research community, policy makers and the public.

The researchers collaborated with the Department for Work and Pensions which supported the project throughout from the application, to access data to form the basis of the sampling for the primary research, as well as active engagement on the steering group and at dissemination events. This research project has led to greater recognition of the true scale and spatial concentration of unemployment in the older industrial parts of Britain which is essential when planning policy across government that could have some impact on employment rates.

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