A key aim of Universal Credit is to simplify the social security system. While several aspects of its introduction have received critical attention, this overarching aim continues to receive acceptance and support. Drawing on two empirical studies involving means-tested benefit claimants, we aim to deconstruct the idea of ‘simplicity’ as a feature of social security design and argue that it is contingent on perspective. We suggest that claims of simplicity can often be justified from an administrative perspective but are not experienced as such from the perspective of claimants, who instead can face greater responsibility for managing complexity.
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