Latest updates - headlines:
- Welfare at a (Social) Distance - a Covid-19 rapid response project
- Unsuccessful benefit claimants during the Covid-19 pandemic
- Welfare at a (Social) Distance data now publicly available
- Social data during the COVID-19 pandemic
I am currently a Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy at the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research (SSPSSR) at the University of Kent, and also involved in the the University of Kent's Q-Step centre (which I helped found and co-directed until Sep 2016). For a time in 2015-16 I was also on secondment as a Policy Advisor at the Department of Work and Pensions.
For the first part of my career I was just called 'Ben Baumberg' - the 'Geiger' was added in March 2016. I have a wide range of research interests, currently focused on:
- Disability, the workplace, and the benefits system (see Disability page);
- Attitudes around benefits and 'scroungers' (see Social Attitudes page); and
- The relationship between evidence and policy (see On Social Science page).
A complete list of all my academic publications, non-academic writing, qualifications and positions is available here. If you're interested in studying at Kent at undergrad or postgrad level then look at our SSPSSR pages; I'm also very happy to co-supervise research students on any of my research interests - just send me an email if you want to explore this.
Getting in touchI'm always happy to hear from potential collaborators / research students, or from people who are just interested in my research. You can email me at b dot b dot g..ger at kent dot ac dot uk (click here to see a spambot-protected email address in plain English), or get in touch via Inequalities. To hear about any new research/writing, then follow me on Twitter, Kent Academic Repository, my Google Scholar profile, ResearchGate or academia.edu - or to avoid any of these, simply come back to this website periodically! I also write articles at the blog Inequalities that I set up (with others) in 2010, and which I have restarted in 2021.
Giving evidence to the Work and Pensions Select Committee on disability & employment
24/2/2021 - I gave evidence to the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee inquiry into the disability employment gap. You can read a transcript of the session here.
Welfare at a (Social) Distance - a Covid-19 rapid response project
24/2/2021 - Working with a fantastic wider team, I am co-leading a mixed-methods project on the benefits system during the Covid-19 pandemic, called 'Welfare at a (Social) Distance'. The first report came out on 26th June 2020, and the latest two reports came out in February 2021 - you can see a full list of reports on the project website or (with links to press coverage) also on my publications page.
Unsuccessful benefit claimants during the Covid-19 pandemic"
22/10/2020 - Our new Health Foundation-funded report, ‘At the edge of the safety net: Unsuccessful benefits claims at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic’ has just been released:
- It looks at the 290,000 people who started making a claim for benefits, but who were unsuccessful – a group largely missed from previous research.
- It finds that many had seen sharp falls in income, were struggling financially, and had poor mental health. Some were even going hungry because they couldn’t afford food.
- Unsuccessful claims were largely because people were not eligible for benefits (about 220,000 people). The numbers of people who had started making a claim but failed to complete it was relatively small (40,000).
You can find out more and read the exec summary & full report via the publications page here.
Welfare at a (Social) Distance data now publicly available
9/10/2020 - The Welfare at a (Social) Distance project conducted a 7,000-person survey of benefit claimants in May/June this year. These data are now publicly available from the UK Data Service. The survey allows you to look at:
- Details of people’s claim (e.g. advances, deductions);
- Support used when claiming benefits;
- Attitudes to benefits;
- Their employment situation (now and pre-lockdown);
- Income, housing, and financial strain;
- Sociodemographics and some political variables from their YouGov profile.
This is the first of several bits of data that we will be making publicly available over the next year (hopefully increasingly quickly after they are collected).
Social data during (and after) the COVID-19 pandemic
16/4/2020 - I'm currently looking at our understanding of the social dimensions of the COVID-19 response, the role that surveys have, and trying to encourage people to collaborate in answering the most urgent questions. I've set up an open Google Doc that describes what's happening to government surveys, and lists other surveys - please do share/add things to keep this as a useful document! And do get in touch if you're thinking of commissioning a survey, and I'll try to link you to the people that I think are best-placed to collaborate with you (not necessarily me!)
News update after paternity leave
16/4/2020 - I've been less active than usual after the birth of my child in November 2018 (unsurprisingly!). I'm starting to get more involved in public debates again, so watch this space...
I have now returned to fortnightly blogging on the Inequalities blog that I run. I also sometimes post elsewhere - a full list is available here. The post that drew most attention was Let's all be open about what we earn on the Guardian's Comment is Free blog. In this, I argued that one of the reasons that people are relatively relaxed about inequality is that we don't tell each other what we earn. [In the interests of disclosure and not being a complete hypocrite, I'm now on about 58k, with wealth of about 300k. Also, for anyone wondering about the role of political ideologies in research, my views are covered here].
Comments and critiques are always welcome - this is what blogging is for!