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Universal credit, gender and structural abuse

Jonathan Parker (Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, UK)
Kelly Veasey (School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research (SSPSSR), University of Kent, Canterbury, UK and Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, UK)

The Journal of Adult Protection

ISSN: 1466-8203

Article publication date: 19 August 2021

Issue publication date: 30 November 2021




This paper aims to explore Joint couple payments under Universal Credit which tend to privilege male partners. This may entrap women in abusive relationships, foster poverty which are indicative of gendered structural abuse.


Through a critical review of the literature and qualitative interviews with third sector support workers, the authors explore the impacts that Universal Credit has on women, especially those in abusive partnerships.


Current welfare processes reinforce patriarchal assumptions and are indicative of the structural abuse of women. This has increased during the lockdowns imposed to tackle COVID-19.

Practical implications

Changes are needed in the ways in which welfare benefits are disbursed. Gendered structural abuses should be explicitly considered when working with women who experience domestic violence and abuse.


This paper argues that there needs to be a wider a recognition of gender power relations and the concept of structural abuse in policy formation and implementation.



Parker, J. and Veasey, K. (2021), "Universal credit, gender and structural abuse", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 23 No. 6, pp. 358-369.



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