RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce)

Greater understanding of the economic security gap for key-workers during the pandemic


Project overview

The value of key workers has never been more apparent. The majority are on low-middle incomes, who have carried on working but who faced high levels of economic insecurity before the crisis and continue to do so during it.

This project will profile and understand the economic security gap as it relates to key worker households, focussing on impacts on financial well-being. The research will look at four key elements: income changes, asset changes, engagement with key local infrastructure (private, public, voluntary) and subjective wellbeing shifts. Tracking these dimensions will enable greater understanding of where the gaps in support and provision are. The RSA will review the effects of the pandemic but also the principles, policy ideas and solutions that will support a better future, beyond the current crisis.

The project will:

  • Profile and define key workers, focussing on low-to-middle income households.
  • Conduct a series of three survey-based polls in order to understand in more granular detail how the current crisis is affecting key workers, such as the conflict between carrying out their work and the trade-offs with their wellbeing and family responsibilities. Each poll will sample 1,000 key workers, and will be designed to track changes over time. These polls will form the basis of a series of policy briefing papers over the lifetime of the project.
  • Rapid ethnographic work offering a repository of case studies to better understand the impacts from personal perspectives.
  • Produce a report focussing on how future policy can safeguard key workers from economic shocks and ensure a greater level of income, status and economic security.