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Welfare Reform on the Web (January 2011): Welfare state - UK

The Big Society: power to the people?

B. Kisby

Political Quarterly, vol. 81, 2010, p. 484-491

The author argues that the Prime Minister David Cameron's 'Big Society' idea boils down to one of two things. At best, it is essentially empty, nothing more than an encouragement to citizens to do good deeds in the community. In this analysis, the idea lacks substance and is destined to have minimum impact on public policy. At worst, it is dangerous, a genuine belief that charities and volunteers can and should provide numerous core public services instead of the state.

Child and working-age poverty set to rise in next three years

M. Brewer and R. Joyce

The Institute for Fiscal Studies, Dec. 2010

The IFS researchers forecast absolute and relative income poverty amongst children and working-age adults for each year to 2013-14, using a static tax and benefit micro-simulation model combined with official macroeconomic and demographic forecasts, taking into account current government policy.


Giving: green paper

HM Government


This discussion paper presents proposals to encourage people to make a donation to charity every time they use a debit or credit card. People could also be asked to donate money when they fill in a tax return or apply for state services such as passports or driving licences. Anyone making a large donation would get a letter of thanks from a minister. Local donors contributing to projects in deprived areas would be matched by contributions from a 50m Community First Fund and 10m match funding would be available to voluntary projects. Public services would be encouraged to recruit more volunteers under plans for a national volunteering website. Under-used government buildings could also be opened up for use by charities.

Monitoring poverty and social exclusion 2010

A. Parekh, T. MacInnes and P. Kenway

Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2010

This report focuses on the 18-month recession of 2008 and 2009. Whilst highlighting recent success in preventing poverty worsening, it draws attention to several longstanding problems, including unemployment. It is too soon for the data in this report to reflect any impact of new policies from the Coalition Government, but it describes the subjects any new anti-poverty programme will need to address to match the scale and scope of the challenge. Monitoring poverty and social exclusion 2010 is an essential resource for policy-makers and others wanting to take stock of what is happening and understand the challenges ahead.


New Labour legacy: comparing the Labour governments of Blair and Brown to Labour governments since 1945

M. Mullard and R. Swaray

Political Quarterly, vol. 81, 2010, p. 511-521

The detailed studies of individual expenditure programmes presented in this article confirm that public expenditure on health, education and social security increased more rapidly under the Blair/Brown governments than under previous Conservative and Labour administrations. The increases in spending on social protection during the past decade have made a major contribution to the reduction of poverty, but have not reversed the trend in income inequalities that started with the election of the Thatcher government in 1979. The study of incomes over the past 20 years shows steep increases for the top 1% of earners, while for the majority incomes have remained relatively stagnant or have actually declined in real terms.

Osborne in court fight over 'anti-women' cuts

A. Grice

The Independent, Dec. 6th 2010, p. 9

The government failed to consider the impact of its spending cuts on women before pushing ahead with them, the High Court will hear today. The Fawcett Society, which campaigns for equality between sexes, will launch an attempt to seek a judicial review of the emergency budget presented by the Chancellor George Osborne in June 2010. It is the first time a budget faces such a legal challenge. Some ministers, including the Home Secretary Theresa May, are said to be privately nervous about the case and the impact it will have on the image of the coalition government among women.

Race and ethnicity in a welfare society

C. Williams and M. R. D. Johnson

Maidenhead: Open University, 2010

Contemporary multiculturalism poses a number of challenges for the design and delivery of welfare services in Britain. This thought-provoking book explores the needs and well-being of ethnic minorities within the context of the changing framework for delivering welfare services. The book:

  • Considers major transformations in the delivery and practices of welfare related services and their implications for the engagement, access and participation of ethnic minorities
  • Reflects on issues of race and ethnicity within a variety of welfare policy arenas
  • Suggests ways that welfare practices could be transformed to incorporate the notion of a welfare society.

Welfare policy under New Labour: the politics of social security reform

A. Connell

London: L. B. Tauris, 2011

How much freedom of action does an ambitious reforming party have as it moves from opposition to government? Drawing on original research and first-hand interviews, the author analyses the development of welfare reform policy following New Labour's ascent to power in 1997 to show how ideas, actors, and structures can constrain policy options. He looks at the contrasting ideas of Frank Field, Minister for Welfare Reform in 1997-8, and of Gordon Brown, and shows how Brown's approach eventually came to prevail. The book also includes a unique exposition of Field's political and social philosophy, showing how his consistent Christian socialist beliefs influenced his work as Minister for Welfare Reform.

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