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The Administrative Data Research Network is an ESRC-funded project that ran from October 2013 - July 2018. It is currently at the end of its funding cycle and is no longer taking applications. Administrative data research will be taken forward in a new project, to be launched later in 2018.

A pilot ADRC-NI project linking Social Security Benefits to understand the health and social needs of disability benefit claimants

Research Overview

Northern Ireland (NI) is one of the most disadvantaged parts of the UK, with high levels of disability and joblessness, and it is the most dependent on state benefits. In 2014 one-­in-ten of the working-age population was receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA), compared to one-­in-twenty in Great Britain. Despite the high number of claimants there is a surprising scarcity of information about the health of DLA claimants and how this relates to disability in the wider community. This innovative project is funded by the ESRC’s Secondary Data Analysis Initiative, and involves researchers from the Centre of Excellence for Public Health at Queen’s University, Belfast working in partnership with academics at Ulster University and with the Department for Communities (DfC), linking disability related benefits data to Census data to understand the health, mental health and social needs of disability related benefit claimants. This unique project brings together researchers from academia and government departments to answer pertinent questions around the health and social needs of disability benefits claimants in NI.  Multiple disability and poor mental health are also increasingly important in the context of employment, and this study will explore the association between employment, health and receipt of DLA.

The research partnership will allow the DfC to provide guidance on the structure and interpretation of the benefits dataset, as well as facilitate knowledge transfer and incorporation of the research findings into policy. 


This research will offer fascinating insights into disability benefits claimants in NI and the collaborative approach with researchers from Queen’s University, Ulster University and the Analytical Services Unit (ASU) in the DfC will provide a significant benefit for both researchers and policy makers. Knowledge from this research may be instrumental in helping shape future disability policy particularly in relation to the implementation of the new Personal Independence Payments replacing Disability Living Allowance.

Government departments

Department for Communities (DfC)

Date approved

September 2016


Research team

Research lead: Dr Dermot O’Reilly

Research team: Dr Aideen Maguire, Dr David Wright, Dr Ana Corina Miller, Dr Foteini Tseliou, Dr Michael Rosato, Mr John Hughes, Mr Stuart Gilmore & Mrs Siobhan Mawhinney.

Page last updated: 24/10/2017