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

All in the mind? Why social inequalities persist

D. Dorling

Public Policy Research, Dec. 2009-Feb. 2010, p. 226-231

The author argues that, although the old social evils of ignorance, want, idleness, squalor and crime identified by Beveridge have been overcome, they have been replaced by five new social evils, elitism, exclusion, prejudice, greed and despair. In their modern form social evils suggest that elitism is efficient, prejudice is natural, exclusion is necessary, greed is good and despair is inevitable. A continued belief in these tenets both maintains and helps to exacerbate extreme social inequality, which harms everyone.

Benefits system faces radical overhaul

N. Timmins

Financial Times, May 28th 2010, p. 2

The work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, has announced a simplification of the benefits systems designed to make even very part-time work pay and to reduce rates of taxation on the working poor. The new minister for welfare reform, Lord Freud, has recommended a move to a single system of working-age benefits and reform of rules that prevent people claiming out-of-work benefits if they only work for a few hours each week.

(See also The Independent, May 28th 2010, p. 14; The Guardian, May 28th 2010, p. 21)

The cross-border provision of public services for Wales: follow up

Welsh Affairs Committee

London: TSO, 2010 (House of Commons papers, session 2009/10: HC 26)

This Report follows up a detailed inquiry into cross-border services which examined further and higher education, health and transport provision across the Welsh-English border. The original inquiry produced evidence that policy makers in Cardiff and London were failing to consider the impact of policy differences on people on either side of what is a long and porous border. As a consequence, some of those needing to cross the border for access to public services were receiving a poorer quality of service. This follow-up inquiry has shown that many of the specific difficulties have been resolved. Communications and consultation between the Welsh Assembly Government and the relevant UK Government departments appear to be much improved in these cases, although policy co-ordination in general remains variable. There remain, however, a number of outstanding issues in the specific areas examined where progress has not been made. Higher education is in a period of change both in Wales and England. Welsh higher education institutions already receive a lower level of funding from the Assembly Government than those in England and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has a responsibility to ensure that Wales does not lose out even more from the changed focus of research priorities. It is vital for new structures to enable the Sector Skills Councils to give due regard to territorial differences in skills policies and in the configurations and weightings of different sectors. A revised cross-border health protocol and accompanying financial transfer from England to Wales has resolved most of the outstanding disputes with regard to the commissioning and funding of hospital care in England for patients resident in Wales. However, more needs to be done to raise public awareness of the differences in services they can expect to receive in England and Wales. The improvements in co-ordination at governmental level should be matched by transparency for patients and citizens. The replacement arrangements for Health Commission Wales must ensure a consistent, equitable, responsive and timely approach to the provision of cross-border specialist health services.

Drama out of a crisis

D. Walker

Public Finance, May 7th-13 2010, p. 16-19

All parties in the 2010 UK General Election are committed to ideals of community participation and active citizenship. They expect the public to be willing and able to take more responsibility for running public services and holding institutions such as the police and the NHS to account. Unfortunately there is no evidence that the general public has either the inclination or the time to become more active in community affairs. Analysis of the results of the local government Place Survey also suggests that participation does not make people feel happier or more empowered. Finally, there is evidence that community participation tends to become dominated by small groups of insiders or mini-elites.

Whose middle is it anyway? Why universal welfare matters

T. Horton and J. Gregory

Public Policy Research, Dec.2009-Feb. 2010, p. 218-225

Most people in the UK like to think of themselves as being ordinary and middle class. Politicians can harness this quirk to defend the welfare state. An appeal to the middle class can garner support for taxing the very rich (who are portrayed as 'other'), and support for universal welfare benefits (as long as those in the middle continue to receive state support). Benefits and services with wide coverage will secure the self-interested support of those on middle incomes, and are perceived by them as being fair. Finally, targeting benefits and services on the poorest creates social divisions, weakening feelings of interdependence and solidarity.

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