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

The 'Celtic Lion' and social policy: some thoughts on the SNP and social welfare

G. Mooney, G. Scott and G. Mulvey

Critical Social Policy, vol. 28, 2008, p. 378-394

In May 2007 the Scottish National Party (SNP) emerged as the largest single party in the Scottish Parliament and with the support of the Greens it now forms a minority Scottish government. This article considers the ways in which social policy making is being approached by the SNP and the extent to which this represents divergence from the policies of the previous New Labour-Liberal Democrat administration. It concludes that the promotion of social justice is likely to take second place to the pursuit of economic growth, reflected in the SNP's goal of transforming Scotland into a 'Celtic Lion' economy.

Just care? A fresh approach to adult services

S. Moullin

London: Institute for Public Policy Research, 2008

Public service reform is entering a new era with the introduction of personal budgets. These involve funding allocated specifically to meet an individual's needs and either held on their behalf or given as a direct payment. In the social care system, local authorities have received grant funding to bring in personal support, including personal budgets, for adults over the next three years. In the NHS, under Lord Darzi's reforms, people with long-term conditions have been promised personal care plans and individual budgets with funding from various sources. In education, personal skills accounts, which inform people of the funds available for them to spend on accredited colleges or training providers, are to be trialled.

Public services and the Third Sector: rhetoric and reality

Public Administration Select Committee

London: TSO, 2008 (House of Commons papers, session 2007/08; HC112)

Government claims that Third Sector organisations can deliver services in distinctive ways that will improve outcomes for users. The committee was unable to corroborate that claim. Its report calls for a mixed economy of service provision, including Third Sector organisations, for-profit firms and the public sector. Commissioners should have a good knowledge of potential providers and of desired user outcomes. They should be able to make judgments about whether contracts or grants are the right way to fund a given service, how important price should be in determining who wins a contract, and whether there is scope for innovative methods of delivery. The Committee also dismisses alarmist claims that involvement in state funded welfare service delivery is diminishing the Third Sector's ability to campaign independently. It is unconcerned by the fact that contractual funding is growing more quickly than grant funding. However it does call for users' interests to be protected by the extension of the Human Rights Act and the Freedom of Information Act to cover non-governmental organisations delivering public services.

(For comment see Public Finance, July 25th-31st 2008, p. 20-21 and Aug. 15th-18th 2008, p. 18-20)

UK has 3 million workless households

J. Macintyre

The Independent, Aug. 28th 2008, p. 2

Almost 1.8 million children - one in seven in Britain - live in households in which no one works, with more than three million families in total unemployment, figures from the Office for National Statistics show. Significantly, the figures showed that fewer working-age people from Asian families were out of work - only 7.6 per cent - while 10.7 per cent of those in the white ethnic group lived in a workless household. The highest level of unemployment was among the Chinese working group, at 28.3 per cent.

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