'Bottom Line is You Deserve These Things': Experiences of Social Security Claimants as Lessons for Take-up Advocacy

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Non-take-up of social benefits is widely viewed as a critical problem in the modern welfare state, undermining the social contract between it and its citizens. Social work has always been considered a key profession in promoting take-up of social benefits as part of its professional commitment to human rights and advocacy. Yet, despite recent research efforts aiming to conceptualise take-up advocacy, there is a clear need to address the experience of claimants who have successfully taken up their rights and to learn from their experiences to identity best practices. This study drew on thirty-two semi-structured interviews with claimants successful in taking up social benefits in order to learn how they had overcome take-up barriers. The findings highlight four key lessons for increasing the likelihood of take-up in practice: (1) take the first step; (2) become an expert; (3) use your strengths; and (4) seek support. Together, these lessons present a multifaceted view of strategies used successfully to facilitate take-up, emphasising the importance of the claimants' personal capabilities, strengths and experiential knowledge as important gateways to take-up. These findings are also discussed in light of the existing knowledge on take-up advocacy by social workers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2237-2255
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers. All rights reserved.


  • agency
  • social benefits
  • social policy
  • social work
  • take-up advocacy
  • take-up of social benefits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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