Professor Jane Millar OBE – specialist in family policy and social security – has been announced as a finalist for this year’s ESRC John Hills Impact Prize 2022.

Awarded in memory of the late Professor Sir John Hills - remembered across the social science and policy community for his work and leadership in relation to poverty and inequality - Professor Millar is recognised for the sustained impact her work has had over many years.

Finalists for the prize have been selected whose work demonstrates how the economic and social sciences benefit wider society, and who have encouraged or facilitated positive and profound lasting changes in the quality of the lives of a significant number of people over a sustained period.

For more than three decades, throughout her time at the University, Jane has led world-class research on the design, implementation, and impact of social policy with a particular focus on gender and changing family patterns. This has included cross-national and comparative studies in Europe and Australia.

Some of her most recent work, conducted with colleagues in the IPR and at the University of Oxford, has focused on the challenges couples balancing money, work and caring for children face under the shifting landscape of Universal Credit and an evolving benefits system. The final report for this project was released in January 2022.

Previous influential work from Jane, carried out over many years, helped to develop innovative and influential research on lone parenthood. This was instrumental in the development of new policies to help lone parents move into, and remain in, work. As such, it has had a direct, positive impact on the quality of life of many families.

Throughout this, Jane has built lasting connections with policymakers and campaigners to generate long-term impacts from her findings. She has also pioneered new methodological approaches, building a case for longitudinal qualitative research, and highlighting the dynamic relationship between policy decisions and people’s everyday lives.

Perhaps most significantly, however, through all her work Jane has also supervised undergraduate and postgraduate students, and worked with many younger colleagues, helping them to develop their policy links and connections, including via seminars, conferences, and placements.

Commenting after being announced as a finalist she said: “I have long been interested in exploring the gaps between the realities of existence for low-income families and the assumptions underlying policy prescriptions and theories of behavioural change.

“My research, with many excellent colleagues over the years, has contributed to a growing recognition of the importance of income security and stability in people’s lives, as well as the effects of gender inequalities in provision and outcomes. Tackling people’s insecurity is a major challenge facing policymakers: as relevant today in 2022, as when I first started looking at these issues in the early 1980s.

“I’m delighted to have been announced as a finalist for the ESRC Impact Prize 2022 in memory of the late Professor Sir John Hills.”

Director for Research at the IPR, Dr Charles Larkin, added: "Jane epitomised the interface between research and public policy. Her work illustrates how building trust between policymakers and academics can result in ground-breaking research and improved policies that result in better lives for citizens. As a teacher, mentor, researcher, communicator, and leader Jane has been a world-class exemplar. Her work as a scholar-leader will continue to improve the lives of Britons and inform students for generations to come. "

Jane studied Social Psychology at the University of Sussex and worked in health and social care before completing her MA in Social and Public Administration at Brunel University. She worked as a researcher in the Department of Health and Social Security and then completed her doctorate in social policy at the University of York.

Since joining the University of Bath as a lecturer in social policy in 1988, she has held various posts. These includes Head of the Department of Social & Policy Sciences (1997-2000); Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences (2003-05); and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) (2008-15).

Jane has been a Specialist Adviser to the House of Commons Select Committee for Work and Pensions and to the House of Lords Economics Affairs Committee. She is Chair of the Trustees Child Poverty Action Group, a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, and a Fellow of the British Academy. In 2001 she was awarded an OBE.

Last September (2021), Jane officially retired from the University but has continued as an Emeritus Professor.