University of York, Social Policy Research Unit

Identity area

Type of entity

Corporate body

Authorized form of name

University of York, Social Policy Research Unit

Parallel form(s) of name

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

  • SPRU

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence



The Unit was established in 1973 and has become one of the largest groups of applied social policy researchers in the UK. Since its inception, SPRU has been concerned with research related to policy, service design and delivery, and practice within the broad fields of welfare and health and social care.

On assuming responsibility for the Family Fund, the Joseph Rowntree Memorial Trust established and provided initial funding for an independent research fellowship in the Department of Social Administration and Social Work at the University of York. The Family Fund Research Project would monitor and evaluate the work of the Fund from its inception and explore the broader research opportunities in social policy presented.

The statistical analysis essential to the Research Project, later the Social Policy Research Unit, was also required by the Joseph Rowntree Memorial Trust for the effective administration of the Family Fund. The research project began work in August 1973 and immediately assumed responsibility to establish and maintain a database to provide a statistical summary of the circumstances of each family applying to the Fund. The Social Policy Research Unit continued to update and maintain the database, providing analysis for the Fund's administrative use and for its own and other agencies research purposes, until 1993 when the database was transferred from the University to the Family Fund offices. Close links were maintained with the Social Policy Research Unit into the 1990s through the Family Fund Research Advisory Group and the Family Fund Research Committee, and through the secondment of a member of the Social Policy Research Unit to jointly maintain the database alongside a member of Family Fund staff.

More information on the establishment of the Family Fund Research Project and the Family Fund database can be found in Jonathan Bradshaw, The Family Fund: An initiative in social policy (London, 1980); and Lewis E Waddilove Private Philanthropy and Public Welfare: The Joseph Rowntree Memorial Trust 1954-1979 (London, 1983).


Legal status

Functions, occupations and activities

SPRU is an internationally recognised research unit that carries out world class, policy-related research, communicates its outputs to policy makers, practitioners, voluntary organisations, and service users, and influences change.

Mandates/sources of authority

Internal structures/genealogy

General context

Relationships area

Related entity

University of York (1963-)

Identifier of the related entity

GB 193 AAR1

Category of the relationship


Dates of the relationship

Description of relationship

Related entity

Family Fund (1973-)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship


Type of relationship

Family Fund is the associate of University of York, Social Policy Research Unit

Dates of the relationship

Description of relationship

Access points area


Control area

Authority record identifier

Institution identifier

GB 193

Rules and/or conventions used

ISAAR(CPF): International Standard Archival Authority Record for Corporate Bodies, Persons and Families, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2003); Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997).


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion




Maintenance notes

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