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Keywords:

  • Welfare reform;
  • Sickness benefits;
  • Narrative;
  • Disability;
  • Discourse;
  • Language

Abstract

This article presents qualitative data taken from in-depth interviews with 25 long-term sickness benefits recipients in the north east of England, UK. A key theme emerging from the research is the importance of listening to the narratives of long-term sick and disabled benefits recipients, particularly in relation to the formation of policy responses and in terms of practice. The findings also illustrate how stigma associated with claiming benefits can deter people from accessing the support they need, leading to under-claiming and the risk of amplified financial strain and hardship. Further, the importance of evidence that emerges from research which focuses upon the lived experiences of sickness benefits recipients to provide evidence in the framing of disability and welfare policy is crucial. Lastly, the article discusses how the narratives presented have implications for social policy and practice, alongside the potential implications for sick and disabled people themselves.