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

Beyond the workfare state: labour markets, equalities and human rights

M. Carpenter, S. Speeden and B. Freda (editors)

Bristol: Policy Press, 2007

The book explores equality, discrimination and human rights in relation to employability and 'welfare-to-work' policies. It draws extensively on new research from the SEQUAL Project, undertaken for the European Social Fund, which investigated seven dimensions of discrimination in a labour market that is theoretically 'open to all'. The book provides an overall analysis of policy shifts and presents a wide and distinctive range of illustrative studies that give voice to a variety of potentially marginalised groups. Chapters deal with obstacles to labour-market access around each of the following themes: gender and class; disability; race and ethnicity; geographical exclusion; sexual orientation; the problems of old and young people; and refugees. The book draws attention to localised examples of promising practice, but also connects these to a broader 'human rights' agenda, linking them to changing legislative and governance frameworks. Its scope covers the whole of Great Britain and it shows how devolution in Scotland and Wales, and at the regional level in England, is creating new possibilities for mainstreaming good practice in this key area.

Cash threat to hospitals where patients suffer

A. Porter

Daily Telegraph, May 15th 2008, p. 4

In his draft Queen's Speech setting out the legislative programme for Parliamentary session 2008/09, Gordon Brown proposed measures to:

  • Help first-time buyers onto the housing ladder through an extension of shared equity schemes
  • Force unemployed benefits claimants to undertake training. Claimants who refuse to take jobs or participate in training will see their benefits cut. Incapacity benefit claimants will be given a personalised programme to help them back to work.
  • Give residents a direct say in the policing of their neighbourhood
  • Raise education standards by removing under-performing teachers.
  • Give the Government the power to take over, close or merge any school where fewer than 30% of pupils gain five good GCSEs.
  • Give parents powers to demand the opening of new schools in their area if existing provision is inadequate
  • Cut funding to hospitals with low patient satisfaction levels and poor health outcomes.
  • Introduce an NHS constitution to ensure minimum standards in hospitals.

Public sector staff most likely to do unpaid overtime

N. Timmins

Financial Times, May 27th 2008, p. 2

Research by the Centre for Market & Public Organisation at Bristol University shows that 46% of staff working in the NHS, or for the public sector/NGOs in education and social care, do unpaid overtime, compared with just 29% of their private-sector counterparts. They also do more of it more than an extra hour a week. Altogether, this is an extra 120million hours of unpaid overtime a year, the equivalent of an extra 60,000 people. The authors argue that it provides evidence of a public sector ethos, where public sector staff work more hours to provide a better service.

Realities of exclusion

L. Tickle

Community Care, May 1st 2008, p. 14-15

Being unable to contribute to community life can have a highly corrosive effect on both the individual and the wider society. This article outlines some of the latest thinking about how to tackle it, including through:

  • Universal services that include the most socially isolated and alienated
  • Providers building a relationship of trust with their clients
  • Development of intergenerational activities
  • Ensuring that services work together to take a whole family approach.
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