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

Budget 2010: securing the recovery

HM Treasury

London: TSO, 2010 (House of Commons papers, session 2009/10; HC 451)

From a welfare state point of view, the budget contained the following measures:

  • Families: Labour's target of halving child poverty by 2010 will be missed. In an attempt to meet the goal of eradicating it by 2020, families will receive an increase of 4.00 a week in Child Tax Credits for each child under two.
  • Older People: from April 2010, the age at which older people can claim free travel will begin to rise from 60, reaching 65 by the end of the decade in line with the increasing state pension age for women. The basic state pension will rise by 2.5% in April, but there will be a freeze in the State Earnings Related Pension (SERPS). Public sector pensions will be reformed to ensure that they are affordable.
  • Higher Education: an extra 20,000 undergraduate places will be made available in September 2010 to ease the higher education admissions crisis
  • Minimum wage: The adult minimum wage is to increase by 2.2% to 5.93 an hour in October 2010
  • Young unemployed: A scheme to guarantee jobs or training to young unemployed people under 24 will be extended until March 2012, instead of ending in March 2011.

Hot tea, dry toast and the responsibilisation of homeless people

M. Whiteford

Social Policy and Society, vol. 9, 2010, p. 193-205

Responsible citizenship has become a policy focus for both New Labour and the Conservatives. The logic is that responsible citizens make reasonable choices to promote their own welfare and that 'bad choices' arise from the wilfulness of irresponsible people, rather than from the structural distribution of resources, capacities and opportunities. This article explores how the desire to create responsible citizens is experienced by homeless people in a small Dorset town, who are being asked to pay for hot food at a day centre in order to instil in them a sense of responsibility for their own welfare.

Interrogating harm and abuse: a lifespan approach

A. Bowes and B. Daniel (editors)

Social Policy and Society, vol. 9, 2010, p. 221-309

For several decades, the general acceptance that the state in most developed countries has a role in protecting some potential victims of abuse, notably women and children, has been underpinned by an extensive legislative and bureaucratic framework. More recently, the focus of state concern has broadened to include people considered at heightened risk of harm due to impairment and older age. Evolving legislative and bureaucratic protective responses often parallel those already in place for children. Research into harm and abuse suffered by the various groups has proceeded in silos, with little cross-fertilisation of ideas. Despite the lack of comparative research, policy developments are proceeding on the basis of uncritical transfer of practice between fields. However, solutions produced in this apparently simplistic way likely to be impoverished due to lack of appreciation of the complexity of the problems they address and the failure of debate in the various strands of research to be mutually informative. This themed section brings together researchers who have studied abuse and neglect in a variety of contexts, in an effort to promote mutual learning about these issues across the lifespan and to integrate insights from previously disparate fields.

Power to the people

J. Clifton

Public Finance, Feb. 26th-Mar. 4th 2010, p. 24-26

There is a growing political consensus that the answer to public service reform lies in involving citizens and communities more in the provision of services. However, while there is support in principle for society being more involved, the public in general does not believe that individuals, families or communities should be primarily responsible for providing services. While people support getting involved in principle, they are often too busy personally to give up the time. Moreover, people in the most deprived communities most in need of services lack the wealth and social capital to run them effectively.

Safe as houses? Conservative social policy, public opinion and Parliament

H. Bochel and A. Defty

Political Quarterly, vol.81, 2010, p. 74-84

The Conservative Party has changed its social policy rhetoric and, to some extent, its social policy positions under the leadership of David Cameron. There is a recognition that the state has a role in responding to social problems, and in that sense the Conservatives have moved away from Thatcherism. This article explores the extent of possible support for Cameron's stance on social policy among three key groups: the public, Conservative MPs and members of the House of Lords. It is concluded that Cameron's ideas will not resonate with a significant group of right-wing, Thatcherite MPs and peers, who come become an irritant to the leadership in the event of a hung Parliament or a small overall majority.

Should local services be run like John Lewis?

L. Phillips

Public Finance, Feb. 26th-Mar.4th 2010, p. 16-17

Co-operatives and mutuals are being promoted by both the Conservative Party and the Labour government as vehicles for delivery of local public services such as education and social care. In the face of public spending cuts due to the recession, they will reduce the cost and size of the local state by shifting responsibility for services away from the council.

Tales of the unprotected

T. Travers

Public Finance, Feb. 19th-25th 2010, p. 22-25

Public expenditure will be frozen in real terms over the period 2011/12 to 2014/15. A near 15% cut in capital expenditure on transport, house building, hospitals and other infrastructure is planned. Current spending on the NHS, international development and schools will be protected, and expenditure on social security is expected to continue to rise. Assuming that local authorities will have to protect spending on social services and the police, current spending cuts of over 30% are likely to fall on highways and transport services, fire and rescue, housing, culture, leisure, libraries, public health and central administration. An alternative policy of freezing all spending, current and capital, at 2010/11 levels until 2014/15 might be easier to manage.

A web page for every citizen, controlled by the state

R. Prince

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 23rd 2010, p. 12

The prime minister has predicted in a speech that passport offices, job centres and other government agencies dealing face to face with the public could be shut down over a decade. Instead, individuals would deal with the state through personal web pages which would allow them to apply for passports, claim benefits and pay taxes online.

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