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Families, Welfare and Work policy research team

Policy work by the team

Includes welfareworkpensions and housing.

Kayley Hignell, Head of Policy - Families Welfare and Work

As Head of Policy for Families, Welfare and Work Kayley leads an agenda of policy research on issues ranging from the improving job and income security, job design, reducing the health and disability employment gap, and improving the design and administration of welfare systems.

She is particularly interested in exploring how big picture policy expertise can be combined with insight from the design and implementation of policies to improve outcomes.

Kayley has worked in the Families, Welfare and Work team for the past three years working on a number of topics including insecure jobs, childcare and Universal Credit. Prior to joining the the team Kayley worked at Citizens Advice Leeds for five years in a number of roles including working with families, those with mental health conditions and on local research and campaigns. She has also spent time on secondment at the Department of Work and Pensions where she worked to bring frontline experience into the design of Universal Credit.

Read Kayley's blogs.

Minesh Patel, Principal Policy Manager

Minesh oversees the team's various projects across families, welfare and employment policy.  
Prior to joining Citizens Advice, he worked at the disability charity Scope for 4.5 years. Minesh led influencing activity to tackle disability unemployment and drive down the extra costs faced by disabled people, securing a number of changes to policies and practice across government and business.

Beth Foley, Senior Policy Researcher

Beth is currently engaged in our programme of research into the future development of the welfare system, particularly the ways in which Universal Credit could better respond to the changing needs and circumstances of those who receive it.

Beth joined Citizens Advice from the Work Foundation, where she focused on research into low-wage work and employment support. Prior to this, she worked at the Institute for Employment Studies and the Social Market Foundation. She has carried out qualitative and quantitative research and evaluations on behalf of a range of national and international bodies, including the Department for Work and Pensions, the European Commission, the Trades Union Congress, Acas and the Scottish and Welsh Governments.

Lindsey Kearton, Senior Policy Officer Wales

Lindsey joined the Families, Welfare and Work team in January 2018, having previously worked in the Wales Policy and Campaigns team for over four years where she lead programmes of work on benefits and financial inclusion. She is currently engaged in our programme of work on Universal Credit and working claimants.

Prior to joining Citizens Advice she worked as a Policy Manager for Consumer Focus Wales. 

Charles Smith, Senior Policy Researcher

Charles works primarily on disability benefits and employment. Charles came to Families Welfare and Work from the Post and Telecoms team, where he specialised in Mobile and Broadband issues. Prior to joining Citizens Advice Charles completed a PHD in contemporary political history, as well as working in a variety of roles in the political, charity and library sectors.

Elanor Harwood, Policy Researcher

Ellie joined the Families, Welfare and Work team in April 2018, having previously worked in the Funded Programmes directorate at Citizens Advice. She has a background in research and data analysis of the labour market, with a specialist interest in women’s economic development. She previously spent 6 years researching and evaluating the impact of European Structural Funds in economically deprived areas of Wales, and has carried out independent programme evaluations for a range of third sector clients, including the Welsh Centre for International Affairs, Oxfam Cymru and the British Council in Wales. Her current role involves supporting Research and Campaigns activity in the Citizens Advice network, and contributing to the team’s work on Universal Credit and welfare reform.

Gwen Hardy, Policy Researcher

Since joining the team in 2018, Gwen has worked on research exploring people's experiences claiming disability benefits and has led work responding to initial proposals for managed migration to Universal Credit. She previously worked in the Consumer and Public Services policy team and, prior to joining Citizens Advice, held posts at the Learning and Work Institute, Family and Childcare Trust and Age UK.

Frank Hobson, Policy Researcher

Frank works mainly on Universal Credit at the moment, and has recently been leading work on how people manage their money in the new system. He’s particularly interested in talking to the Citizens Advice network and harnessing their data and knowledge in our research and campaigns.

Prior to joining Citizens Advice he worked on financial capability policy, as well as on consultancy projects with local government and schools.

Victoria Egerton, Policy Researcher  

Victoria joined the team in April 2019 and currently works on Universal Credit. As part of Help to Claim she supports the Best Practice Lead research projects which aim to harness local insight to influence both policy and service design.  

Prior to joining Citizens Advice Victoria worked as the Research and Campaigns Lead in a local office, as a caseworker and has also led various research projects and campaigns for other charities and trade unions to improve access to justice and workers rights. 

Emily Spoor, Policy Research Assistant

Emily joined the team in June 2018 and currently does work on the disability benefit system, focusing especially on making sure that particularly vulnerable groups of people aren't left behind by reform. Part of Emily's role is also to support local Research and Campaigns work, so you might also have seen her at forums!

Prior to joining national Citizens Advice, Emily did R&C work in a local office and has previously worked as one-to-one advocate, providing support to people with mental health difficulties.