The Trussell Trust calls for evidence for an ambitious research project to better understand disabled people’s experiences of the social security system and the drivers behind the overrepresentation of disabled people being referred to food banks. This includes a comparative analysis of disabled people’s experiences of claiming Adult Disability Payments in Scotland, and Personal Independence Payments across the rest of the UK.


In 2021, the Trussell Trust’s State of Hunger research project found ‘two in three (66%) households referred to a food bank in early 2020 included one or more disabled people’ (as defined by the Equalities Act 2010).1 2
With disabled people in the UK facing barriers to finding appropriate work, sometimes unable to
work, or facing challenges to sustain employment, many must rely on the social security system to
meet their essential needs and provide support to meet the additional costs associated with their
disability. However, research has consistently highlighted flaws in the current system, leaving far too many disabled people unable to afford the essentials, never mind the additional financial pressures of living with a disability.

This project will gather new evidence to better understand the drivers of the significant over-
representation of disabled people and disabled households referred to food banks in the Trussell Trust network.

The project aims to better understand disabled people’s lived experiences of engaging with the
social security system and the extent to which it may be pushing people deeper into poverty and
driving people to use food banks. This will primarily focus on the experience of applying for disability benefits (primarily ADP and PIP), the impact of the outcome of that application (positive or negative), and whether the value of these benefits are sufficient to meet people’s needs. This
project aims not only to understand the challenges of the current approach, but it will also look to
uncover what currently works well and has a positive impact on people’s lives.

The Trussell Trust would like to hear from a broad range of individuals, groups and organisations
who have knowledge of the issues under research in this project
 Individuals who have experience living with a disability
 Individuals who have lived with or supported a person/people living with a disability
 Groups who support disabled people
 Disabled People’s Organisations
 Other organisations that represent and advocate for disabled people
 Academics researching the experiences of disabled people and the social security system

Evidence Required

A key element of this project consists of an in-depth review of existing literature on this topic
(including research papers, government publications and evaluations) to be included in the final
report. We are asking for individuals and organisations to provide us with any literature which you
think is relevant to this project and could help us answer our research questions. This may be
internal, unpublished evidence held by your organisation, items you have published, or any other
external, publicly available sources of which you are aware. Please let us know if the evidence you
submit cannot be shared publicly.

This includes literature concerning:
 Disabled people’s experiences of applying for and/or receiving disability benefits and the
assessment processes.

 The impact the current approach has on disabled people’s mental, physical, and social well-

 Challenges to disability benefit ‘determinations’ etc.; and
 Which aspects of the current system are working well and which are likely to be having a
negative impact?
 The sufficiency of disability benefits
We also welcome any relevant data sources which could be relevant to this project and those which
may help us answer our research questions below. This may include, for example, UK or devolved
government management data sources or quantitative surveys.

If you have any questions about the evidence required, please contact
[email protected]

How to submit evidence

Please kindly submit all responses to [email protected] by 01.03.23
We welcome submissions in any format of your choosing; however, our preferred format is a simple list of sources along with a link to each one. If possible, please include the publisher and a brief one-line description for each item.

Research Questions

1) What factors drive the significant need for food banks from disabled people in the UK?
a) What do disabled people consider to be the most significant drivers of this trend? This
includes background drivers and structural socioeconomic inequalities, disability benefits
and the broader social security apparatus.
2) What do disabled people consider to be the primary reasons for the widespread underclaiming
of disability benefits among people referred to food banks?
a) What impact does a person’s experience of applying for ADP or PIP have on their attitudes
towards, or ability to engage with the benefit system?
b) What impact does the underclaiming of disability benefits have on access / passporting to
other forms of support

3) What are disabled people’s experiences of applying, and being assessed for, Personal
Independence Payments in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Adult Disability Payments
in Scotland?
a) How do experiences of ADP and PIP compare? Is one system more accessible, less restrictive
or easier to navigate than the other?
b) For people who have previously claimed PIP in Scotland and are now in receipt of ADP, how
do their experiences of each benefit compare?
c) In the absence of differences between award amounts, what are the practical and emotional
differences between the two and what impact do they