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

Budget measures and low-income households

Treasury Committee

London: TSO, 2008 (House of Commons papers, session 2007/08: HC 326)

The Report looks at the impact of the abolition of the 10pence starting rate of income tax, considering separately the effects of the initial abolition as well as the impact of the changes to personal allowances announced on 13 May 2008. The Report welcomes the Government's attempts to compensate those who have lost out through the abolition of the starting rate of income tax through raising the personal allowance for basic rate taxpayers, but concludes that there remains a pressing need for the Government to seriously examine ways in which the 1.1 million households who will continue to lose can be fully compensated. Furthermore, the Committee recommends that for future years, the Government must ensure that the original 5.3 million losing households do not suffer losses from the abolition of the starting rate and calls on the Government to set out proposals to achieve both these objectives by the time of the 2008 Pre-Budget Report.

From Citizen's Charter to Public Service Guarantees: entitlements to public services

Public Administration Select Committee

London: TSO, 2008 (House of Commons papers, session 2007/08: HC 411)

The report considers the lasting legacy of the Citizen's Charter programme-in particular, its core idea of empowering public service users by defining their entitlements to public services. The report looks at three aspects of that initiative in particular. First, it reexamines the underlying principles of the Citizen's Charter and assesses their continuing relevance to public service delivery. It then explores the part of the Citizen's Charter programme concerned with improving service to users, the Charter Mark, and its recent successor, the Customer Service Excellence standard. Finally, it considers the issues raised by setting entitlements to minimum standards of public services, and proposes that a set of 'Public Service Guarantees' be created to allow people to claim their rights to agreed standards of public service provision.

Poverty: just a fact of modern life?

M. Ivory

Community Care, Sept. 11th 2008, p. 16-17

In spite of the targets which the New Labour set for poverty eradication, more than 12 million people are living on incomes 60% below the median. Social workers, who have to deal with the effects of poverty on a daily basis have accepted it as a fact of life and have ceased to campaign against it. Social workers focus on improving individual behaviour instead of focusing on the structural factors, such as poor schools, low paid jobs, and inadequate housing, which blight communities.

The socially excluded adults PSA

N. Eisenstadt and J. Lawrence

Housing, Care and Support, vol.11, July 2008, p. 4-6

One of the 30 Public Service Agreements (PSAs) announced in Autumn 2007 aims to ensure that the most socially excluded adults are offered a chance to improve their lives by providing them with a home and a job. The PSA is aimed at four groups at significant risk of poverty and isolation: young people leaving care; adult offenders on probation; adults in contact with secondary mental health services; and adults with moderate to severe learning difficulties. This article provides an overview of the mechanisms involved in implementing the PSA, the obstacles to be overcome and the benefits success will bring.

War between the state and the family: how government divides and impoverishes

P. Morgan

London: Transaction, 2008

The family is an important vehicle for welfare provision and for income transfers to the most needy and dependent members of society. Yet the state, by providing extensive welfare provision, by financing child-care services and by taxing families on an ever-greater proportion of their income, creates strong incentives for families to break up rather than to hold together, and to form family relationships that are hidden from the authorities. The book argues that the government policy has crowded out voluntary welfare within families and caused otherwise law-abiding people to commit fraud on a very extensive scale. It begins by showing the economic benefit of self-sustaining families. It then shows how government policy has increasingly taken over the role of the family in supporting children. The evidence presented here makes it clear that government policy has caused the breakdown of families: policy has not simply responded to autonomous changes in social behaviour. The book then examines changes to divorce laws and to tax and benefit systems that should help reverse the trend and once again make the family the building block of a welfare society.

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