The digitization of advice and welfare benefits services: re-imagining the homeless user

Jennifer Harris*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
32 Downloads (Pure)


Digitization is transforming the way in which people in England access advice and welfare benefits. Face-to-face advice provision is being increasingly replaced by telephone and online services, whilst the online application and management of benefit claims have become mandatory within the introduction of Universal Credit. This paper argues that the current shift to digitization fails to recognize the variation and complexity surrounding homeless people’s use of technology, with homeless people as technology users often placed into homogenizing categories. Based on findings from qualitative interviews and observations carried out with homeless people and voluntary sector organizations, this paper discusses the social and contextual factors affecting homeless people’s use of technology for advice and benefit purposes. The paper highlights the need for a more nuanced understanding of homeless people’s use of technology.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalHousing Studies
Early online date9 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2019

Structured keywords

  • SPS Centre for Urban and Public Policy Research


  • Homelessness
  • technology
  • advice
  • welfare benefits
  • digitization

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