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Saul Becker


The Andrew and Virginia Rudd Professor of Social Care Research and Education Practice

E-mail Address


+ 44 (0)7970 861944


  • PhD, Social Policy, University of Nottingham
  • MA, Social Work, University of Nottingham
  • CQSW, Certificate Qualification in Social Work, CCETSW
  • BA (Hons), Social Policy and Administration, University of Nottingham

Membership of Professional Bodies/Associations

  • Ambassador, Carers Trust
  • Fellow, Academy of Social Sciences
  • Fellow, Royal Society of Arts
  • Registered Social Worker, Social Work England
  • Founder, Citizens UK Groups at Nottingham, Birmingham and Sussex universities
  • Academic Adviser, Care Act Commission
  • Academic Adviser, National Policy Forum for Young Adult Carers and Learning
  • REF 2014 Panel Member (UoA22)
  • Expert Advisor, Department for Children, Schools and Families and Department of Health, on young carers for the Government’s National Carers Strategy
  • Commissioning Group Member, Department for Children, Schools and Families Research Programme on Local Safeguarding Children Boards
  • Commissioning Group Member, DfES and DoH Safeguarding Children Research Programme
  • Former Chair, Social Policy Association
  • Founding Commissioning Editor, ‘Understanding Welfare’ book series, published by Bristol University Press/Policy Press (2000-2019)
  • Former Editorial Board member, Journal of Social Policy, Social Policy and Society, Benefits

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Professor Saul Becker is the Andrew and Virginia Rudd Professor of Social Care Research and Education Practice in the Faculty of Education, Cambridge. He is regarded as the world leader for research on ‘young carers’ – children who provide (unpaid) care to ill, disabled and other family members, including those with mental health problems and substance misuse who have a need for care, support and supervision from family members (‘informal carers’). He is invited around the world to talk about his 30-year research programme (to date) and its findings and implications for policy and practice, and he currently advises Governments, policy-makers and professionals/service providers in a number of countries. In 2019, he was recognised by Universities UK for this work, as one of the ‘Nation’s Lifesavers’ – ‘100 individuals or groups based in universities whose work is making a life-changing difference’. In 2020, AccessHE named him as a ‘Role Model’ for his research which has ‘put young carers at the heart of many universities widening participation plans’. In 2020, the national charity, Carers Trust, appointed him as their first ever Ambassador, to represent and speak out for unpaid family carers of all ages. His public engagement and influencing work, closely aligned with his research on vulnerable children, care and caring, shows itself in over 150 radio interviews, 9 television documentaries, Tedx, and more recently (2020) a 25 minute interview with Andrew Marr on the ‘future of caring in Britain’.

Saul has 340 publications including 18 authored and edited books. Additionally, he has 230 conference papers, most as keynote invited speaker (including over 50 as keynote speaker at international conferences). For 19 years (2000-19) he was the Founding Commissioning Editor of the Bristol University Press/Policy Press book series, ‘Understanding Welfare’, with 21 books in print. He was also the Chair of the learned society – the Social Policy Association (2004-08).

He has been the Principal Investigator on 56 research awards in open competition, with a total value to date of £3.2m. These have included awards from Horizon 2020, ESRC, Rowntree Foundation, Swiss National Fund, Princess Royal Trust for Carers, Carers Trust, Gulbenkian Foundation, and many health, social services and local authorities. 

Saul was Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Sussex from 2017-21. He had day-to-day management and strategic leadership responsibilities for all academic matters. Prior to that he was Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Birmingham and Head of the College of Social Sciences (2014-17); Assistant Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Internationalisation, Faculty Director of Research (Social Sciences) and Head of the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Nottingham (2006-14); and Professor of Social Policy at Loughborough University (2000-2004).

He has been Director of Research at Birmingham University for the Institute of Applied Social Studies (2004-06); the first Director of Research for the Faculty of Social Sciences at Nottingham University (7 Schools, 2013-14). He has been responsible for REF coordination/leadership in the Social Sciences at both Birmingham and Nottingham. He was a REF 2014 Panel Member for Unit of Assessment 22 (Social Work and Social Policy). His REF2014 impact case study (on young carers) was highlighted by HEFCE as an example of world leading 4* impact. That impact continues today.

Finally, Saul is a registered social worker with Social Work England (since 2005), one of the few academics to maintain their professional social work registration alongside their academic and research work. He is also a recognised Community Organiser, having established three Citizens UK Branches – at the universities of Nottingham, Birmingham and Sussex. Saul has a number of active charitable roles in national and local charities, mostly concerned with informal family carers and young carers in particular.

Academic Area/Links

  • Cambridge Public Health
  • Bennett Institute for Public Policy
  • Rudd Programme

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Research Topics

  • Young carers and young adult carers (UK and international/cross-national)
  • Young carers and education
  • Young carers and mental health
  • Service delivery/evaluations of interventions for young carers and families
  • Vulnerable children/children in need/at risk
  • Child outcomes
  • Informal family care
  • Health and social care
  • Child poverty
  • Social work and education practice with vulnerable children and adolescents

Prospective PhD Applications

From October 2022 if aligned with Rudd Programme priorities

Current Research Project(s)

  • Horizon 2020 (EU), 2018-2021, Six-country EU study of the mental health of children and young adults who are carers (£361,638)
  • Neumark Foundation, 2021-2024, young carers in schools, research and evaluation of an education-based intervention and outcomes in North Wales schools (£190,000)
  • Swiss National Science Foundation, 2017-2022, research on young adult carers in Switzerland (£66,435)

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Principal and Recent Publications

Authored and edited books (selection)

Becker, S. Bryman, A. and Ferguson, H. (eds) (2012) Understanding Research for Social Policy and Social Work: Themes, Methods and Approaches, Policy Press, Bristol.

Evans, R. and Becker, S. (2009) Children Caring for Parents with HIV and AIDS: Global Issues and Policy Responses, Policy Press, Bristol.

Becker, F. and Becker, S. (2008) Young Adult Carers in the UK: Experiences, Needs and Services for Carers Aged 16-24, The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, London.

Sempik, J., Aldridge, J. and Becker, S. (2005) Health, Well-being and Social Inclusion: Therapeutic Horticulture in the UK, Policy Press, Bristol.

Becker, S. (ed) (2004) Improving Behaviour Through Therapeutic Approaches: Research into Practice in Nottingham City Learning Support Units, Excellence in Cities, Nottingham.

Aldridge, J. and Becker, S. (2003) Children Caring for Parents with Mental Illness: Perspectives of Young Carers, Parents and Professionals, Policy Press, Bristol.

Becker, S., Aldridge, J. and Dearden, C. (1998) Young Carers and their Families, Blackwell Science, Oxford.

Becker, S. (1997) Responding to Poverty: The Politics of Cash and Care, Longman, London.

Becker, S. (ed) (1991) Windows of Opportunity: Public Policy and the Poor, Child Poverty Action Group Ltd, London.

Journal articles (selection)

Frech, M., Wepf, H., Nagl-Cupal, M., Becker, S. and Leu, A. (2021) ‘Ready and able? Professional awareness and responses to young carers in Switzerland’, Children and Youth Services Review,

Leu, A., Wepf, H., Sempik, J., Nagi-Cupal, M., Becker, S. and Jung, C. (2020) ‘Caring in mind? Professionals’ awareness of young carers and young adult carers in Switzerland’, Health and Social Care in the Community, DOI: 10.1111/hsc.13061.

Joseph, S., Sempik, J., Leu, A. and Becker, S. (2019) ‘Young carers research, practice and policy: an overview and critical perspective on possible future directions’. Adolescent Research Review. ISSN 2363-8346.

Joseph, S., Kendall, C., Toher, D., Sempik, J., Holland, J. and Becker, S. (2019) ‘Young carers in England: findings from the 2018 BBC survey on the prevalence and nature of caring among young people’. Child: Care, Health and Development. ISSN 0305-1862.

Leu, A., Frech, M., Wepf, H., Sempik, J., Joseph, S., Helbling, L., Moser, U., Becker, S. and Jung, C. (2019) ‘Counting young carers in Switzerland – a study of prevalence’. Children and Society. Vol 33 (1), pp 53-67. ISSN 0951-0605.

Becker, S. and Sempik, J. (2018) ‘Young adult carers: the impact of caring on health and education’. Children & Society. ISSN 0951-0605.

Kallander, E., Weimand, B., Ruud, T., Becker, S., Van Roy, B. and Hanssen-Bauer, K. (2018) ‘Outcomes for children who care for a parent with a severe illness or substance abuse’. Child and Youth Services. ISSN 0145-935X.

Leu, A. and Becker, S. (2016) ‘A cross-national and comparative classification of in-country responses to “young carers”’. Journal of Youth Studies. 20 (6), 750-762. ISSN 1367-6261.

Becker, S. and Leu, A. (2014) ‘Young Carers’, in H. Montgomery (ed) Oxford Bibliographies in Childhood Studies, Oxford University Press, New York. doi:10.1093/OBO/9780199791231-0120.

Joseph, S., Becker, S., Elwick, H. and Silburn, R. (2012) ‘Adult carers quality of life questionnaire (AC-QoL): development of an evidence-based tool’, Mental Health Review Journal. Vol, 17, no. 2, pp 57-69.

Joseph, S., Becker, S., Becker, F. and Regel, S. (2009) ‘Assessment of caring and its effects in young people: development of the Multidimensional Assessment of Caring Activities Checklist (MACA-YC18) and the Positive and Negative Outcomes of Caring Questionnaire (PANOC-YC20) for young carers’. Child: Care, Health and Development. Vol 35, 4, pp 510-520.

Bryman, A., Becker, S. and Sempik, J. (2008) ‘Quality criteria for quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods research: a view from social policy’, International Journal of Social Research Methodology. Vol 11, No 4, pp 261-276.

Becker, S. (2007) ‘Global perspectives on children’s unpaid caregiving in the family: Research and policy on ‘young carers’ in the UK, Australia, the USA and Sub-Saharan Africa’, Global Social Policy. Vol 7, No 1, pp 23-50.

Sempik, J., Becker, S. and Bryman, A. (2007) ‘The quality of research evidence in social policy: consensus and dissension among researchers’, Evidence & Policy. Vol 3, No 3, pp 407-23.

Aldridge, J. and Becker, S. (1999) ‘Children as carers: the impact of parental illness and disability on children’s caring roles’, Journal of Family Therapy. Vol 21 (3), August, pp 303-320.

Dearden, C. and Becker, S. (1997) ‘Protecting young carers: legislative tensions and opportunities in Britain’, The Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law. 19 (2), pp 123-138.

Aldridge, J. and Becker, S. (1996) ‘Disability rights and the denial of young carers - the dangers of zero-sum arguments’, Critical Social Policy. Vol 16 (3) issue 48, pp 55-76.

Aldridge, J. and Becker, S. (1993) ‘Children as carers’, Archives of Disease in Childhood. Vol 69, pp 459-462.

Aldridge, J. and Becker, S. (1993) ‘Punishing children for caring: the hidden cost of young carers’, Children and Society. Vol 7 no 4, pp. 277-288.

Published research reports (selection)

Sempik, J. and Becker, S. (2014) Young Adult Carers and Employment, Carers Trust, London.

Sempik, J. and Becker, S. (2014) Young Adult Carers at College and University, Carers Trust, London.

Sempik, J. and Becker, S. (2013) Young Adult Carers at School: Experiences and Perceptions of Caring and Education, Carers Trust, London.

Joseph, S., Becker, S. and Becker, F. (2012) Manual for Measures of Caring Activities and Outcomes for Children and Young People (2nd edition), Carers Trust, London.

Elwick, H. and Becker, S. (2011) Emergency Schemes for Carers in Britain: Results of a National Survey, The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, London.

Elwick, H., Joseph, S., Becker, S. and Becker, F. (2010) Manual for the Adult Carer Quality of Life Questionnaire (AC-Qol), The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, London.

Becker, S. and Becker, F. (2008) Service Needs and Delivery Following the Onset of Caring Amongst Children and Young Adults: Evidence Based Review, The Commission for Rural Communities, Cheltenham.

Dearden, C. and Becker, S. (2004) Young Carers in the UK: The 2004 Report, Carers UK, London, October.

Dearden, C. and Becker, S. (2000) Growing Up Caring: Vulnerability and Transition to Adulthood - Young Carers’ Experiences, Youth Work Press for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Leicester.

Chapters in books (selection)

Evans, R. and Becker, S. (2018) ‘Comparing children's care work across majority and minority worlds’. In: Meichsner, S., Bourdillon, M. and Twum-Danso Imoh, A. (eds) Global Childhoods Beyond the North-South Divide. Palgrave Studies on Children and Development. Palgrave Macmillan, Sheffield, pp 231-254.

Becker, S. (2014) ‘Conceptualising “young carers” and policy responses: A cross-national approach’, in Järkestig Berggren, U., Magnusson L. and Hanson, E. (eds) Seeing Children as Next of Kin - Relationships, Interventions and Caring Responsibilities - An Anthology (in Swedish), The Swedish Family Care Competence Centre (Nka), Linnaeus University: Children as Next of Kin 2015:6, Leanders Grafiska, Kalmar.

Becker, S. (2013) ‘Les enfants soignants’, in Ligue Contre Le Cancer, Les Proches: Ces Autres Victimes Du Cancer, Autrement, Paris, pp 29-35.

Becker, S. (2011) ‘Informal family carers’, in K. Wilson, G. Ruch, M. Lymbery, A. Cooper (eds) Social Work: An Introduction to Contemporary Practice (2E), Pearson Longman, London, pp 426-455.

Becker, S. (2010) ‘For love, not money: Children’s unpaid care work in modern Britain’, in L. Brockliss and H. Montgomery (eds) Childhood and Violence in the Western Tradition, Oxbow Books, Oxford, pp 209-215.

Silburn, R. and Becker, S. (2009) ‘Life beyond work? Safety nets and “security for those who cannot” work’, in Millar, J. (ed) Understanding Social Security (2nd edn), Policy Press, Bristol, pp 55-73.

Dearden, C. and Becker, S. (2005) ‘Growing up caring: young carers and vulnerability to social exclusion’, in Barry, M. (ed) Youth Policy and Social Inclusion: Critical Debates with Young People, Routledge, London, pp 251-269.

Polnay, L., Becker, S., Aldridge, J., Dearden, C. and Long, J. (2002) ‘Health inequalities’, in Polnay, L. (ed) Community Paediatrics, (3rd edition), Churchill Livingstone, London, pp 323-348.

Becker, S., Dearden, C. and Aldridge, J. (2001) ‘Children’s labour of love? Young carers and care work’, in Mizen, P., Pole, C. and Bolton, A. (eds) Hidden Hands: International Perspectives on Children’s Work and Labour, Falmer Press, Brighton, pp 70-87.

Aldridge, J. and Becker, S. (2001) ‘Children who care: Rights and Wrongs in debate and policy on young carers’, in Franklin, B. (ed) The New Handbook of Children’s Rights: Comparative Policy and Practice, Routledge, London, pp 208-222.

Dearden, C. and Becker, S. (2000) ‘Listening to children: meeting the needs of young carers’, in Kemshall, H. and Littlechild, R. (eds) User Involvement and Participation in Social Care: Research Informing Practice Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London, pp 129-142.

Becker S. (1996) ‘Poverty and Social Welfare’, in Catterall, P. and Preston, V. (eds), Contemporary Britain: An Annual Review 1995, Dartmouth/Institute of Contemporary British History, Aldershot, pp 254-277.

Aldridge, J. and Becker, S. (1996) ‘Caught in the caring trap: the health of children who care’, in Bywaters, P. and McLeod, E. (eds) Working for Equality in Health, Routledge, London, pp 66-78.

Media (selection)

Andrew Marr and Saul Becker in conversation (25 minutes, 2020), ‘Future of caring In Britain’

Saul Becker TEDx (12 minutes, 2014) ‘Hidden young carers’