19 places to get updates on welfare reform

If you want to keep track of what’s happening in welfare reform we’ve compiled this list of some of the most useful – and varied – sources on everything from the bedroom tax to child poverty.

We’ve also put together a dashboard if you want to follow these on a single easy-to-check webpage. You can follow a public version here, or add it to Netvibes here.

Here’s who we’ve added – can you think of others?

1. The Guardian – topic: welfare

The Guardian is the UK newspaper that invests the most in covering welfare issues.

Their website allows you to follow specific topics such as ‘benefits‘ (within the Society section), as well as individual journalists, such as Patrick ButlerBut we’ve picked the general ‘politics – welfare’ topic first because it sometimes includes stories written by other journalists that aren’t classified under either of the other. 

This story on Nick Clegg’s criticism of child benefit policy, for example, comes under ‘child benefit’ rather than ‘benefits’, and is written by a politics reporter – but it does still come under the welfare topic.

2. Inside Housing: news

With so little specialist coverage in the press, specialist magazines are often a better place to look for welfare-related news.

Inside Housing is specifically focused on social housing, so it’s a good place to hear about the impacts of Government policies as well as how local authorities, landlords, tenants and builders are reacting.

The site offers separate feeds for news, analysis, blogs and other sections. We’ve added news first.

3. Diary of a Benefit Scrounger

One of the best known welfare blogs, Sue Marsh’s DOABS has been going for over three years now, covering welfare cuts, disability and discussions on social media. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in the field.

4. Gov.uk: welfare announcements

The Gov.uk site brings all government announcements into one place. These can also be filtered by topic – including welfare.

Most are from the Department for Work and Pensions but other sources include Number 10, the Ministry of Defence (MOD), and Department for Business, Information and Skills (BIS).

5. Joseph Rowntree Foundation

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation often makes the news with its research into welfare issues. You can find its blog here.

6. LSE blogs: politics and policy

The London School of Economics hosts a number of blogs by academics with an interest in government policy, which often touch on welfare issues, recently including the benefit cap and the “scrounger myth”.

7. Google News alert: “welfare reforms” site:uk

Using a couple of advanced search techniques on Google News (or the Netvibes search option in the Add > Essentials option) can bring you updates you might otherwise miss, while excluding irrelevant results from abroad.

Putting “welfare reforms” in quotes ensures you only receive results with that exact phrase, while site:uk (no space after the colon) restricts results to .uk sites such as independent.co.uk and telegraph.co.uk.

The results page will give you an email alert option at the bottom – or you can put it into Netvibes to get a feed.

8. The Work and Pensions Committee

Select committees examine Government policy and proposals – they have the ability to summon witnesses to give evidence and invite submissions from individuals and organisations likely to be affected. So they’re a good place to keep up to date with concerns about policy, and hear about those affected.

The Work and Pensions Committee is a Commons Select Committee with a membership split between Labour and Conservative (5 each) and one Liberal Democrat representative.

They’re also on Twitter @CommonsWorkPen.

9. Dame Anne Begg MP

Following on from the Select Committee, chair Dame Anne Begg’s blog also covers welfare issues including her work on the committee. Here, for example, is a post about the impact of welfare reforms on women’s refuges.

She’s on Twitter @annebegg.

The only other members of the committee who seem to blog about welfare issues regularly are Labour MP Teresa Pearce and Conservative MP Nigel Mills, who includes transcripts from his appearances in parliament.

Outside of the committee, Michael Meacher is another politician with a specific interest in welfare, which he covers in his blog.

10. The Children’s Society

A useful source on issues affecting children such as poverty and homelessness.

Ten facts about poverty
Ten facts about poverty image from Children’s Society blog

11. Benefit Scrounging Scum

Not to be confused with DOABS, Benefit Scrounging Scum was deservedly shortlisted for the Orwell Prize in 2012 for its coverage of welfare reforms.

12. Where’s the Benefit?

Both DOABS and Benefit Scrounging Scum are contributors to group blog Where’s the Benefit? alongside over a dozen others including journalists Louise Bolotin and Sharon Brennan.

13. 24dash.com

Social housing and public sector news. The left hand side of the site also pulls in a feed of all tweets with the hashtag #UKhousing, and aggregates feeds from a range of other housing sites. On Twitter @24dash.

14. North East Child Poverty

This blog from the North East Child Poverty Commission provides a local authority perspective on the issue, with documents, presentations and guest posts.

The most recent post on the site is from November 2013, but it has been consistently updated since 2011, so here’s hoping they post again soon.

15. Shelter

The news section on the website for housing charity Shelter regularly reports housing issues in the news alongside its own research and activities.

Shelter Scotland and Wales also have their own sites.

16. Benefit Tales

A blog covering developments in welfare reform. This brings together what’s happening across the country from a range of sources, including those not reported in the media.

17. Icerocket search: “Bedroom tax”

Icerocket is a blog search engine. Because most blogs are hosted on .com addresses such as WordPress.com or Blogspot.com there’s no easy way to exclude US results – but using a UK-specific phrase like “bedroom tax” achieves a similar result, and again provides you with a feed to put into Netvibes. If you prefer email alerts, try using Google Alerts and selecting ‘Blogs’ from the Results type menu.

18. Benefits in the Future

Benefits in the Future is a blog scrutinising many of the figures behind claims on welfare reform, often providing more depth than general news reports. Here, for example, he explores some of the subtle challenges around a £20,000 benefit cap.

19. Watching A4e

A4e may be out of the news spotlight but after 5 years the site which did so much to scrutinise it is still going strong, and still worth following.

If you can think of others to add to this list please get in touch. You can also follow all of these and others on our public dashboard, or add it to Netvibes here.

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