Long-term social assistance recipients’ experiences with an increased monthly payment: a qualitative pilot study
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Aims: Ten long-term social assistance recipients in a Norwegian municipality received a greater-than-average fixed monthly payment for 12 months. This study aimed to explore whether these recipients with reduced administrative requirements and a fixed monthly payment that was greater than the average social assistance experienced reduced poverty, increased feelings of independence, better daily living, and an improved quality of life. Methods: The study’s explorative design included 20 qualitative, in-depth, semi-structured interviews and a longitudinal electronic survey for 12 months. The 10 participants had been selected by the local labour and welfare agency based on stringent criteria and are therefore not representative of social assistance recipients in general. Individual interviews were conducted during autumn 2021 and spring 2022. The interview data were analysed using systematic text condensation, and the survey results are presented using descriptive statistics. Results: The participants included in the project described a reduced experience of poverty. They could buy additional items and set aside money, something they had not been able to do in the past, and meant a great deal to them. They expressed experiencing freedom, gaining a stronger sense of independence, and having lessened feelings of shame. Many of the participants described health issues that were incompatible with working. Conclusions: Being given this opportunity led to a feeling of increased dignity and greater inclusion in society among this selected group of participants. They appreciated the simplified conditions and reduced requirements for administrative matters. All expressed that spending 8 months without contact with the social welfare office was a liberation.