A. France and others (guest editors)
International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 30, 2010, p. 109-193
The six articles in this special issue explore the impact of UK social policies under the New Labour government on social inequality. The contributions cover:
London: TSO, 2010 (House of Commons papers, session 2010/11; HC61)
The emergency budget of the new coalition government set out deep cuts in public spending in order to reduce catastrophic levels of government debt. Reducing the amount paid out in welfare benefits was an explicit aim. Changes include:
The Guardian, June 30th 2010, p.1
Unpublished Treasury estimates obtained by The Guardian show the Government expects up to 600,000 jobs to be lost in the public sector and between 600,000 and 700,000 to go from the private sector by 2015. However, it is assumed that economic growth will create 2.5m new private sector jobs over the same period.
(See also The Times, June 30th 2010, p.8, and Financial Times June 29th 2010, p.3)
Public Finance, May 21st-27th 2010, p. 12-15
The author argues that the level of government indebtedness will mean huge cuts in public expenditure on services, including social security, health and education. Both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats champion devolution of decision making to the local level and community empowerment. However the financial crisis facing the UK will require a radical rethink of the role of government and reform may see the withdrawal of the state from swathes of public service provision.
Daily Telegraph, June 10th 2010, p. 4
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development predicts that 725,000 of Britain's six million public sector jobs could be lost as measures to tackle the black hole in the public finances bite. It estimates that the number of unemployed people will rise to close to three million as a result. It predicts that the deficit reduction measures will stall any recovery in the labour market later in 2010 and slow any return to low unemployment.
H. Bochel and A. Defty
Social Policy and Society, vol. 9, 2010, p. 367-377
In the past the role of the House of Lords in the making and scrutiny of social welfare legislation has largely been ignored. However, since the removal of the bulk of the hereditary peers in 1999, the House has become more assertive. This article examines the views of members of the contemporary House of Lords, drawing on a series of face-to-face interviews to examine Peers' attitudes towards a range of social policy issues. If the House of Lords is becoming more assertive, then the extent of agreement within it, and between it and the House of Commons, on key issues may be crucial to governments' ability to successfully deliver their legislative programmes. Moreover, the extent to which Peers' attitudes reflect public opinion may impact on claims that the non-elected upper house is more democratic than an elected house dominated by party.
D. Bassett and others
In its alternative budget the think tank calls for savage cuts in public spending to reduce levels of public debt. It proposes £20bn of cuts to the NHS by lowering pay, sacking staff and limiting treatments available free. It says that £11.5bn could be saved in education by eliminating teaching assistants, scrapping the school rebuilding programme and raising university tuition fees. A further £13bn could be cut from the welfare budget by increasing the retirement age, abolishing the winter fuel allowance and means-testing Child Benefit, while £18.3bn savings are possible from cuts to police funding and reducing the size of the Civil Service. £4.6bn a year could be raised in taxes by increasing VAT on food and children's clothing.
This report claims that Britain is not as bound by class divisions as politicians believe. It cites evidence that, contrary to popular belief, intelligence is more important than background in determining success in life and influencing social mobility. The report concludes that governments are wrong to put so much effort into opening universities to working class students and to increase taxes on the middle classes to provide more benefits for the poor.
London: TSO, 2010 (Cm 7872)
This document sets out a framework for a review of all public spending. It states explicitly that the review will examine areas such as social security, tax credits and public service pensions. Plans for savings and reform in these areas will be unveiled later in 2010.
This report sets out a comprehensive assessment of poverty in the UK at the start of the new Coalition government, establishing a clear overview that will be used to inform policy decisions as the government advances its aims of tackling poverty and improving life chances. It includes a broad range of poverty and deprivation indicators, including income poverty, indebtedness, unemployment, educational and health inequalities, family structure and community breakdown. In spite of spending billions of pounds on state-led programmes, the Labour government failed to make much headway, and poverty and inequality remain deeply entrenched across the UK.