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Welfare Reform on the Web (February 2010): Welfare state - UK

An anatomy of economic inequality in the UK

National Equality Panel 2010 Britain is now one of the world's most divided countries, with children born into a wealthy family having many advantages over those who are not. While gender and ethnic background are factors in determining a child's success, it is the social class into which he or she is born that is still the most important. The report finds:

  • Parents of public school educated sons can expect their children to be paid 8% more by their mid-20s than boys educated at state schools.
  • At school, poor white British boys are performing well below the national average at seven, deteriorating further by 11.
  • Women are paid 21% below the national average, despite women in their 40s having better qualifications than men
  • A typical professional on the verge of retirement is worth nearly 1m, compared with just 59,000 for someone who is long term unemployed.
  • Poverty rates are among the worst in Europe, with only Spain and Greece faring worse.

The panel identifies a number of areas, ranging from education and pensions to taxes and neighbourhood renewal where action is needed to tackle inequalities.

Support for all: the families and relationships green paper

Department for Children, Schools and Families

London: TSO, 2010 (Cm7787)

This Green Paper sets out a range of measures to support families of all shapes and sizes as they bring up children and to help them cope at times of stress and difficulty. It acknowledges that family life is essentially private and focuses mainly on strengthening relationships by enabling families to help themselves. It also considers the position of children and other family members when relationships have broken down. The proposals recognise that while all families need some help, some have complex needs and may require non-negotiable support, for instance in dealing with persistent anti-social behaviour. Specific measures proposed include:

  • Training, development and support for kinship carers in line with other foster carers
  • A comprehensive review of the family justice system
  • Measures to make public services accessible and friendly to families
  • Measures to promote the introduction of family friendly practices in workplaces

Understanding social welfare movements

J. Annetts and others

Bristol: Policy Press, 2009

Contemporary social policy has never been more vigorously contested. Issues range from single-issue campaigns over housing, social care, and hospital closures through to organised movements around disability, environment, health and education. However, the historical and contemporary role played by social movements in shaping social welfare has too often been neglected in standard social policy texts. This book is the first introductory text to bring together social policy and social movement studies. Introductory chapters examine the historical and theoretical relationship between state welfare and social movements. Subsequent chapters outline the historical contribution of various social movements to the creation of the welfare state relating to Beveridge's 'five giants' of idleness, ignorance, squalor, illness and want. The book then examines the contemporary challenge posed by 'new social movements' in relation to the family, discrimination, environment, and global social justice. The book provides a much needed overview of the changing nature of social welfare as it has been shaped by the demands of social movements.

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