Vulnerability in the social security system

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Some intrinsic or inherent characteristics, such as age or mental health, can act as useful indicators of a person’s vulnerability but relying exclusively on this approach ignores the reality that people are made vulnerable by the social and economic systems which compromise their power to access social rights. Reframing our approach to vulnerability allows us to recognise the inequality of resilience within the social security system and to see this as something that is capable of being addressed rather than inevitable. The paper identifies ways the social security system creates avoidable vulnerabilities for claimants, from the initiation of their claim through to their participation in tribunal hearings, and outlines how the focus on addressing system-made vulnerabilities can protect claimants’ social entitlements.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalPublic Law
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Nov 2023


  • Vulnerability
  • social security
  • administrative justice
  • participation
  • universal credit


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