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

The Conservative Party, poverty and social justice since 1951: continuity or change?

R.M. Page (editor)

Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, vol. 18, 2010, p. 119-168

This themed section explores how the Conservative Party approached the issues of poverty and social justice from the first Churchill-led government of 1951 to the Cameron-led coalition administration of 2010. It covers the 'One Nation' approach to social policy 1951-1964, the influence of New Right ideas on the Thatcher and Major administrations, 1979-1997, and the more compassionate Modern Conservatism of David Cameron. In the final article, Charlotte Pickles, director of the Centre for Social Justice, explains why she considers British society to be broken and puts forward some possible remedies.

No frills, big bills: easyCouncil finds it hard to make cuts

R. Booth

The Guardian, Oct. 28th 2010, p. 1

It was billed as Britain's first easyCouncil, a flagship for the government's town hall spending cuts, but it has emerged that the London Borough of Barnet is spending more trying to find efficiencies than it is actually saving. The borough has tried to innovate through its 'One Barnet' programme which includes paying to develop a system of life coaches to persuade residents to reduce dependence on the state, appointing business consultants to help town hall officials and even opening a library in a branch of the coffee shops chain Starbuck. This move could result in the closure of several library buildings in the borough. The council's funding shortfall is set to hit 15m next year.

'Poor will be the hardest hit': thinktank torpedoes Cameron's fairness claim

L. Elliott

The Guardian, Oct. 22nd 2010, p. 1 + p.2

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has contradicted Government claims that its austerity measures will be progressive, that frontline school spending will be protected and that Whitehall departments are not facing deeper cuts than they would have done under Labour.

(See also Times Oct.22nd 2010, p. 8)

So, are we really all in this together?

S. O'Grady

The Independent, Oct 21st 2010, p. 6

Sean O'Grady assess whether the cuts are fair to all sections of society - and whether George Osborne's plan will work.

Society not state: the challenge of the Big Society

M. Glasman

Public Policy Research, June-Aug. 2010, p. 59-63

Under the New Labour governments in office between 1997 and 2010, power was shared between the state and the market. Third sector organisations were squeezed out and found themselves impoverished and powerless. Following the financial crisis of 2008/09, and the MPs' expenses scandal, the Conservatives sought to promote the Big Society as an alternative model. The Big Society stresses civic responsibility and volunteering, support for social entrepreneurs, the mutualisation of public services, and radical localism in civic government. However, it does not address issues around the negative impact of unregulated markets on family life, which makes it difficult for citizens to engage in public life.

The spending review 2010

Treasury

London: TSO, 2010 (Cm.7942)

The coalition government's 2010 spending review aims to cut public expenditure by 81bn over four years to eliminate Britain's fiscal deficit. Main measures relating to social welfare provision are:

  • An increase in pension contributions from all public sector workers, who will have to pay 3% of earnings into their schemes by 2012.
  • A rise in the state retirement age to 66 by 2020 for men and women
  • A cut in university budgets and sharp rise in tuition fees to at least 7,000 per year from 2012. University teaching budgets will be cut by 40%, although some institutions will see their funding fall by 70% or more.
  • There will be a major rise in the number of government-funded apprenticeships, but cash for further education colleges and adult training courses will be slashed by 25%. Train to Gain, which funds courses for people over 25 already in employment, will be abolished.
  • Universal benefits for pensioners, such as the Winter fuel allowance, free travel passes and free TV licences, will be retained and not means-tested.
  • Sick and disabled people judged able to return to work will be able to claim the Employment and Support Allowance for only one year, after which it will be means-tested.
  • Council tax benefit will be cut by 10% overall. Housing benefit will be cut for single people under 35, who will be able to claim for renting a room in a shared house only. Housing benefit for families will also be capped at 400.00 per week for a four bedroom house, and cut by 10% for claimants on Jobseeker's Allowance for over a year.
  • There will be a cap of 26,000 on benefits paid to any one household.
  • Rents for new social housing tenants will rise under plans to bring charges nearer to those in the private sector. The money raised will be used to build 150,000 new affordable homes.
  • Local authority funding will be cut by 26% over the next four years, impacting on frontline services such as child protection and social care for elderly and disabled people.
  • Spending on the NHS, overseas aid and school education is to rise.

(For summary see Financial Times, Oct. 21st 2010, p. 1-10; Daily Telegraph, Oct. 21st 2010, p. 4-12; Times, Oct. 21st 2010, p. 6-11)

Spending Review

Daily Telegraph, Oct. 22nd 2010, p.10-15

This special section offers a range of comment on, and reaction to, the coalition government's comprehensive spending review. Universities predict fierce competition for places on degree courses in 2011 as students scramble to beat the planned rise in tuition fees in 2012. Treasury officials have warned that workers may turn down pay rises or even ask for reductions in salary to avoid becoming higher rate taxpayers and losing their right to child benefit. This will reduce the amount of money the government will be able to save through the reform. Local government leaders have warned that deep cuts to council funding will hit front line social services, including child protection and social care for older people. Finally, the Archbishop of York has argued that the deep cuts in investment in communities and vital public services will undermine David Cameron's vision of the Big Society.

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