Click here to skip to content

Welfare Reform on the Web (August 2008): Social security - overseas

Social protection for the poor and poorest: concept, policies and politics

A. Barrientos and D. Hulme (editors)

Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008

Social protection is fast becoming one of the most important themes in development policy. This collection examines the political processes shaping the formulation of social protection policies; compares the key conceptual frameworks available for analysing social protection; and provides a comparative discussion oF the policies focused on the poor and the poorest. Drawing on key case studies from Africa, Latin America and Asia, the contributors outline solutions for the future of social protection in developing countries.

Redefining welfare: Australian social policy and practice

L. Chenoweth

Asian Social Work and Policy Review, vol. 2, 2008, p. 53-60

Australia has experienced a gradual dismantling of the welfare state over the past 20 years. The initial focus was on getting the long-term unemployed off benefits and into paid work through the Job Network. This consists of local employment services run by charities and for-profit companies under contract. A core principle of the Job Network is mutual obligation, which requires welfare recipients to actively seek work or face loss of benefits. Those unemployed for more than 12 months are assigned a case manager and required to undergo a range of assessments and interventions designed to get them to the point of job readiness. Thus Australia's welfare to work policies are founded on obligations rather than rights. Welfare benefits are highly targeted and provide fairly low levels of payment, and people reliant on them experience significant financial stress.

Social protection in Vietnam and obstacles to progressivity

M. Evans and S. Harkness

Asian Social Work and Policy Review, vol. 2, 2008, p. 30-52

This paper summarises a range of research and analysis that sought to identify and measure the progressivity of Vietnamese social protection and the underlying obstacles to achieving this aim. The approach was to link inherent structural characteristics of programmes to the current household living survey data to explore several important questions about progressivity. The issue of the role of the informal economy is highlighted through analysis of both the extent of private inter-household transfers, such as regular financial support from adult children to parents, and remittances from relatives living elsewhere, and through exploration of petty corruption in the shape of illegal charging for state services such as health and education. Secondly, the issue of official user-charges for health and education is considered, since a considerable portion of state transfers are related to means-tested scholarships and fee-exemptions for school and cash subsidies for health care. Third, the issue of behavioural effects is considered, concentrating on private inter-household transfers.

Welfare to work: conditional rights in social policy

A. Paz-Fuchs

Oxford: OUP, 2008

Welfare to work programmes aim to assist the long-term unemployed in finding work, increasing labour market flexibility, eliminating dependency, and tackling social exclusion. They have been implemented in many Western countries. This book focuses on an important and novel feature of these programmes: they replace the entitlements-based entitlements that have characterized the welfare state for decades with conditional rights dependent on the fulfilment of obligations; conditions are attached to the benefits received. This new type of social contract between the claimant and the State carries with it a new construction of the relationship between rights and responsibilities, and a new interpretation of citizenship. The book examines the theoretical underpinnings of welfare-to-work programmes, incorporating a comparative analysis of the UK and USA, where the ideal of social citizenship is being curtailed through welfare reforms. It argues that when the rhetoric of the social contract is used to imply a continuous contract between citizens and the state, a vast array of conditions on welfare can be legitimated, including workfare; the obligation to accept any job offer; and moral and social preconditions that are based on a vague notion of reciprocity. The book argues that conditional welfare undermines civil rights such as the right to privacy and family life by requiring welfare claimants to change their behaviour. It contends that strengthening welfare rights and relaxing preconditions on entitlement would better serve the objectives that welfare to work programmes are supposed to advance.

Search Welfare Reform on the Web