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Welfare Reform on the Web (March 2009): Welfare state - UK

Cold comfort: how do people cope with fuel poverty?

R. Singler

Working Brief, Nov. 2008, p. 10-12

This article summarises the results of a review of the research literature on how people cope with fuel poverty. People in fuel poverty were found to mostly engage in coping strategies that are harmful to their health, such as reducing energy use, reducing expenditure on other necessities such as food, and getting into debt. Conversely, vulnerable groups less often used strategies more likely to help them, such as such as adopting energy efficiency measures or switching suppliers to reduce costs.

The evolution of choice policies in UK housing, education and health policy

I. Greener and M. Powell

Journal of Social Policy, vol.38, 2009, p. 63-81

This article presents an analysis of the post-war development of policies to extend choice in healthcare, education and housing in the UK. It asks, where increased user choice was offered, how were the reforms meant to work, and what were their expressed goals? Were these policies attempting to make service users sovereign, or do the goals of choice-based reforms vary according to the service examined? The analysis shows that three separate goals were linked to the choice reforms examined. In housing, choice was meant to encourage the public to take greater responsibility; in education, it was linked to promoting greater diversity of provision; and in healthcare, it was linked to the goal of improved responsiveness.

The demise of prophecy or the reinvention of governance? Faith and the welfare state

F. Davis

Crucible, Jan./Mar. 2009, p. 22-32

This article debates the role of faith-based organisations in the delivery of social welfare services and the development of policy in partnership with the state. It suggests that the state's understanding of the contribution that Christian and other faith-based groups can make to policy development is based on little or no evidence and is therefore flawed.

From welfare state to welfare society: the contribution of faith to happiness and well-being in a plural civil society

R. Williams

Crucible, Jan./Mar. 2009, p. 51-60

'Welfare' has become associated with dependency and passivity because the guaranteeing of the citizen's security and well-being has come to be seen as almost exclusively the responsibility of large-scale state bureaucracies. The author calls for society to move away from welfarism of this kind towards the creation of structures and frameworks within which people can work together co-operatively to 'make a difference' and to promote the common good.

The warm front scheme

National Audit Office

London: TSO, 2009 (House of Commons papers, session 2008/09: HC 126)

The Warm Front Scheme to tackle fuel poverty in England helped to improve the energy efficiency of over 635,000 households between June 2005 and March 2008. There were, however, 1.9 million vulnerable households in 2006, so this rate of progress will still leave many in fuel poverty in 2010. Three factors contribute to fuel poverty: low household income; high fuel prices; and poor energy efficiency. Warm Front aims to improve energy efficiency in privately owned properties in England. The Department of Energy and Climate Change relies upon a contractor, Eaga, to administer the Scheme on its behalf and to manage the 139 contractors, including seven wholly owned subsidiaries, responsible for the installation of heating and insulation measures. This report focuses on the extent to which the Scheme has helped those in fuel poverty, the costs of the work done, and the Department's management of the contract. Satisfaction with the scheme is high, with 86 per cent of assisted households either highly satisfied or satisfied with the work done. The report concludes that delivery of the Scheme has been largely effective and to that extent offers value for money, but it has been impaired by problems in the Scheme design. Government's use of proxy measures, such as benefit entitlement, to determine who is eligible for Scheme grants is a pragmatic approach, but it has resulted in inefficient targeting of resources. Fifty-seven per cent of vulnerable households in fuel poverty do not claim the relevant benefits to qualify for the Scheme. The Department therefore needs to improve the way it assesses eligibility for the Scheme, so that the most vulnerable households are the first to receive the assistance they need.

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