BLOG - Review of the recent DWP Areas of Research Interest Workshop

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)  Areas of Research Interest (ARI) workshop was hosted by SCADR and the University of Glasgow, on Wednesday 4 October at the Advanced Research Centre (ARC), Glasgow.

Aim of event

Building on the previous 2019 DWP event held in Edinburgh, this in-person 2023 Glasgow Workshop is a key way that the DWP analytical community engages with a range of external partners, including academia, Scottish Government and third-sector organisations with an aim to:

  • better integrate the DWP into academic research and the wider research community
  • discuss cutting-edge methods to address DWP analytical priorities
  • help to generate new perspectives surrounding DWP research questions 
  • build successful collaborations and working partnerships across sectors. 

It is hoped that the event has fostered important discussions on key policy areas, highlighted in the recently published DWP Areas of Research Interest 2023 paper, and supported the generation of research ideas and collaboration among event participants.


We were delighted that over 100 attendees joined us for the event. 

The morning sessions involved a range of interesting and thought provoking presentations from representatives from academia, Government and the third sector on key issues including labour market participation, health and disability, poverty, children and families.

The afternoon breakout sessions encouraged discussions on emerging research ideas and opportunities in the context of a diverging social policy system in Scotland, compared to the rest of the UK. Breakout discussions focussed on three thematic areas, mapping key DWP analytical and policy priorities:

  • Maximising employment
  • Health, disability and work
  • Poverty, children and families

Facilitated by DWP colleagues, participants in each breakout session were encouraged to reflect on ways in which, as a research community, we can ensure that research and evaluation are consistent and comparable.

Reflections of the day from DWP Lead Analyst and SCADR staff

Saranna Fordyce, DWP Central Analysis & Science Strategy Unit Lead Analyst & Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser, said: 

We are very grateful to SCADR and the University of Glasgow for their hosting and organising of the event, which was a wonderful opportunity to exchange learning, ideas and perspectives and to continue to strengthen and build relationships between government analysts and the wider research community. The range of analysis discussed, from microsimulations and forecasting, to in-depth qualitative research and evaluations and the relevance to DWP’s important objectives and research questions, ensured this was a really valuable day. We look forward to continuing engagement on these priorities as DWP further develops its evidence base to inform policy and operational decisions.

Professor Nick Bailey, SCADR Co-Director at the University of Glasgow, who co-chaired the event said:

With rising levels of hardship in the UK and continuing debate about the levels of support which we, as a society, provide through social security and pensions, good evidence on the effectiveness of welfare policies has never been more important. We hope that the dialogues started by this event can continue and that they strengthen the role that research plays in this crucial policy area.

Dr. Serena Pattaro, Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow and Co-Investigator at SCADR, who co-organised and co-chaired the event, said:

We had a successful event as we were able to bring together many researchers and analysts from different organisations across Scotland and England to discuss ways in which research can help to inform government’s knowledge gaps and policy priorities. Discussions focused on fair work and wellbeing, the mental health impacts of social security policies, the factors driving economic inactivity, and the hidden welfare realities of low-income families with children. One of the highlights was the cross-sectoral connections that were initiated by engaging with the things that really matter for the UK and devolved governments and for society as whole. 


Overview article from the  Glasgow Social Sciences Hub, University of Glasgow can be read here.




This article was published on 11 Oct 2023


Dr Serena Pattaro