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Welfare Reform on the Web (May 2008): Welfare state - UK

Commissioning conundrums

S. Wood

Public Finance, Mar. 21st - 27th 2008, p. 24-25

There is a growing government drive towards using community and voluntary organisations to deliver public services. This article introduces the work of the National Programme for Third Sector Commissioning, which is developing some key principles for bodies involved in commissioning services from the community and voluntary sector, with the aim of ensuring that processes are fair.

Diversity and different experiences in the UK: National Statistician's annual article on society

K. Dunnell

Office for National Statistics, 2008

The report shows that, under the New Labour government which came to power in 1997:

  • White teenage boys from poor backgrounds are struggling at school while black teenagers are doing much better
  • There are more poor children in two-parent families than in single-parent homes 1.7 million compared to 1 million
  • The income gap between rich and poor is the same as ten years ago
  • The number of children living in poverty fell from 3.4 million to 2.8 million over ten years, but has remained the same for the past three years.
  • There has been a big increase in people claiming incapacity benefit for 'mental and behavioural disorders' up from 33 to 41% of claimants
  • One in four children now lives with a lone parent. The number has doubled over the past 20 years

Shifting the unequal state: from public apathy to personal capability

N. Bosanquet and others

Reform, 2008

The economic cost of low social mobility in the UK is 1,300 per family, according to this new report. The study argues that successive governments have restricted opportunity and reinforced privilege through higher spending on benefits and public services. It recommends a new and co-ordinated policy approach across government to empower individuals and increase their ability to invest in themselves. Over the last thirty years, globalisation and technological advance have meant that workers need education and skills to share in growing prosperity. But the UK's state education system has a dismal record in educating the poorest in society and the proportion of UK adults paying towards their own training is only half of the OECD average. The report finds that radical education reform and a new focus on individual capability can remove blocks on mobility. It points out that the high social mobility countries in Scandinavia have reformed education systems in which the taxpayer funds both private and public schools. It argues that lower government intervention and taxation would create a 'capability margin', meaning the resources available for individuals to invest in themselves

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