Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity (CREID)

Disabled people and direct payments: A UK comparative study

This is a four-country (United Kingdom) study of a relatively new and radical form of welfare provision, direct payments, conducted by leading centres for disability research in England and Scotland. The research explores national and local variations in the implementation of direct payments, and the power relations that underpin these differences.


The research design is based on a progressive focussing strategy. We begin with a 'broad brush' approach, based on an analysis of national policies and statistics, key informant interviews with policy makers and focus groups with disabled people in the four countries. This stage of the research will give us a broad overview of the distinctive features of each country. Subsequently, at a local level, case studies of policies, practices and procedures in eight local areas in the four countries will provide a view of within-country variation. Research activities will include: a literature review; collating official statistics; up to fifteen key informant interviews relating to the development of DP schemes in different parts of the United Kingdom. Four focus groups with disabled people who are DP (one in each country).Telephone/email or face-to-face interviews/ questionnaires with individuals with responsibility for direct payments schemes in all 32 Scottish local authorities, 22 Welsh local authorities, four Northern Irish health and social service trusts and 150 English local authorities. Eight case studies (two each in local authorities of England, Wales and Scotland and two in health and social care trusts in Northern Ireland).

The main research questions to be addressed are:

  • What are the key differences in direct payment policies, implementation strategies and practices in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and within each country what variations are apparent at a local level?
  • To what extent have direct payment policies had an impact on forms of welfare production and consumption?
  • To what extent have local authorities/health and social service trusts and health and social work practitioners changed their cultures and practices to facilitate new modes of welfare delivery?


Economic and Social Research Council

Project team

Dr Charlotte Pearson, Strathclyde Centre for Disability Research and Professor Steve Baron, Faculty of Education at Glasgow; Professor Sheila Riddell, Faculty of Education at Edinburgh and Professor Colin Barnes, Debbie Jolly, Dr Geof Mercer and Dr Mark Priestley at Leeds

Start date 1 January 2004
End date 30 June 2006

Research outputs


Disabled people and direct payments dissemination


For further information about the project contact the project team.

Professor Sheila Riddell

  • Centre for Research in Education, Inclusion and Diversity
  • Moray House School of Education
  • University of Edinburgh

Contact details



Holyrood Road

Post Code

Dr Charlotte Pearson

  • Strathclyde Centre for Disability Research
  • University of Glasgow

Contact details



Adam Smith Building
Bute Gardens

Post Code
G12 8RT

Dr Mark Priestley

  • School of Sociology and Social Policy
  • University of Leeds

Contact details


Post Code