Child welfare inequalities project (2015-2019) Nuffield Foundation

The aim of this project, led by Professor Paul Bywaters and undertaken with the Universities of Coventry, Cardiff, Nottingham, Queens Belfast, Stirling and Edinburgh, is to establish child welfare inequalities as a core concept in policy making, practice and research in the UK and internationally. It focuses attention on preventing harm by studying populations, structures and systems and by providing evidence that will help re-shape the direction and focus of children’s services.

The project has already had major impacts with policymakers in all four countries of the UK and Ofsted, changing the conversation about the role of poverty and inequality in children’s social care. For example, the Welsh Government now has an explicit policy of reducing the numbers of children in care by supporting families better. The Scottish Independent Care Review cited this research in its call for a profound reorientation of children’s social work towards keeping families together. In Glasgow, the numbers of children in care has been reduced by almost 500 since 2016, informed by the research, with entry rates and placement moves cut by 60% to 70%. Across England local authorities have begun to change their policies in relation to how they support families in poverty and a suite of materials have been developed by the British Association of Social Workers. In Northern Ireland, the Department of Health produced an Anti-Poverty Framework to inform all social work practice. (PI:; Co-I: