Ben Baumberg Geiger

Latest updates - headlines:

About me

I am currently a Professor in Social Science and Health in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at King's College London, and co-leading the 'work, welfare reform and mental health' programme within the Centre for Society & Mental Health. I am also co-lead of the 'Welfare at a (Social) Distance' project, which is an ESRC rapid-response project looking at the benefits system during Covid-19 (with the final outputs coming out later in 2023).

Until July 2022 I was a Reader in Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Kent, where I helped co-found the University of Kent's Q-Step centre. 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 King's at undergrad or postgrad level then look at our website; 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 touch

I'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 ben.geiger [at] . To hear about any new research/writing, then follow me on Twitter, my Google Scholar profile, ResearchGate or - 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 am planning to restart in earnest in 2023.

Latest updates

Welfare at a (Social) Distance - a Covid-19 rapid response project

5/1/2023 - 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 has been followed by a number of reports and papers since, with more to come in 2023 on stigma, food insecurity, mental health and other topics - you can see a full list of reports on the project website or (with links to press coverage) also on my publications page, and you can sign up to the mailing list here.

It's also important to us that we share this data widely, as quickly as possible (even before we've published using it ourselves) - you can find waves 1 & 2 of the data in the UK Data Service, with the 3rd wave + quali data released very soon. The survey allows you to look at:

  • Mental health, disability, and disability assessments;
  • Attitudes to benefits / benefits stigma;
  • Conditionality and employment support;
  • Support used when claiming benefits;
  • Details of people’s claim (e.g. advances, deductions);
  • Income, housing, financial strain, and food insecurity;
  • Their employment situation (now and pre-lockdown);
  • Sociodemographics and some political variables from their YouGov profile.

Giving evidence to the Work and Pensions Select Committee and Social Security Advisory Committee

22/6/2022 - On 22nd June 2022 I gave evidence to the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee inquiry into health assessments for benefits. You can read a transcript of the session here. I've given evidence to the Select Committee a few times in the past, including their 2021 inquiry into the disability employment gap(transcript here.

I also gave evidence to the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) on out-of-work disability benefit reform on 5th May 2022- the evidence session is private, but you can read SSAC's excellent report on this here. And in terms of more claimant-led bodies, last year I gave evidence to the Commission on Social Security Led By Experts by Experience, on the extra costs for disabled people (on 13th April 2021) - again the evidence session is private, but their amazing work can be found here.

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.

Non-academic writing

Im 2023 I am again trying to return 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 (for 4 days/wk's work), 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!