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Welfare Reform on the Web (August 2000): Welfare State - UK

BROWN TO SET OBJECTIVES TO IMPROVE SERVICES

B Groom

Financial Times, May 30th 2000, p. 2

Predicts that, in the forthcoming spending review, extra resources will be allocated to:

  • encouraging elite universities to take more state school entrants;
  • tackling adult skills problems;
  • expansion of schemes such as Sure Start;
  • regional development;
  • improving the transport system.
In addition, the author forecasts that the Chancellor will introduce a system of "floor targets," meaning that the worst performing public services will be required to improve by a specified minimum. Failure will be punished by more central intervention.

(See also Guardian, May 30th 2000, p. 1; Independent, May 30th 2000, p.2)

A COMMUNITY OF COMMUNITIES : REPORT OF THE COMMISSION OF REPRESENTATION OF THE INTERESTS OF THE BRITISH JEWSH COMMUNITY

M. Helfgott at al

London : Institute for Jewish Policy Research, 2000

Report argues that the voluntary sector is becoming more involved in the direct provision of essential welfare, educational and housing services previously funded by government.

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OMPACT WITH THE COMMUNITY : A SURVEY OF DEVELOPING LOCAL COMPACTS

Local Government Association

London: 2000 (LGA research report; 5)

Reports on partnerships between local authorities and the voluntary sector. Sets out a number of best practice examples of joint working. The survey responses which have formed the report have fed into the development of guidelines on developing local compacts, which will be published in Summer 2000.

CONSULTATION AND POLICY APPRAISAL : A CODE OF GOOD PRACTICE

Home Office Active Community Unit et al

London: [2000]

Principles for good practice in consultation of the voluntary and community sector by government include: consulting early, giving consultees enough time to respond, writing documents in simple language, explaining where decisions have already been made, and carefully analysing responses. Code is part of the Compact initiative.

FAMILY POVERTY AND SOCIAL EXCLUSION

Family Policy Studies Centre

London : 2000 (Family Briefing Paper; 15)

Paper looks at the government's anti-poverty strategy, particularly its policies to help families with children. It sets out the government's strategy alongside the latest research findings in poverty and social exclusion, and the issues and concerns the Government's policies raise for families.

FATE, HOPE AND INSECURITY: FUTURE ORIENTATION AND FORWARD PLANNING

K. Rowlingson

Policy Studies Institute, 2000

A shift is occurring in British government policy from state planning to individual planning. This emphasis on individual planning assumes that people have similar capacities to plan ahead. In-depth interviews with 41 people of different ages and socio-economic groups about their views on and current plans for their future lives showed that people generally did not make formal, detailed plans for the future. Capacity to plan ahead was limited by economic insecurity and lack of resources. People found it difficult to estimate the risks of negative events such as ill health or unemployment happening to them. Researchers conclude that their findings raise questions about the appropriate balance between state and individual planning. Current perceptions do not take into account the constraints which limit many people's capacity to plan ahead.

FUNDING : A CODE OF GOOD PRACTICE

Home Office Active Community Unit et al

London : [2000]

Sets out key requirements for an effective funding framework with the aim of making a positive difference to the financial relationship between Government and the voluntary sector as part of the Compact initiative. Measures preposed include more provision of strategic funding, recognition of the importance of meeting core costs and development of a model application form.

HAGUE TO CHAMPION NHS AND SCHOOLS IN CENTRE BID

N. Watt and L. Ward

Guardian, June 22nd 2000, p. 11

William Hague is to launch a high profile campaign to persuade voters that health and education will be safe in Tony hands. Under his plans schools will be allocated their entire budget directly, bypassing local education authorities. Mr Hague will also attempt to demonstrate his commitment to the health service by establishing an exceptional medicines fund to bring an end to "postcode rationing".

IRON LAW OF PUBLIC SPENDING : BETTER MEANS MORE

P. Minford

Daily Telegraph, May 22nd 2000, p. 27

Argues that raising public expenditure on services such as health and education to improve their quality or increase their capacity simply fuels demand. Instead, citizens should expect to pay for services (helped by insurance or saving as necessary) and state help should be targeted on the truly needy.

MINISTERS UNVEIL POST OFFICE BANK TO AID POOR

P. Toynbee and L. Ward

Guardian, June 28th 2000, p. 2 + 22

Thousands of sub-post offices are in danger of closing when they lose their government contract to pay out benefits and pensions in 2003. Government envisages a new role for them as:

  • providers of basic banking services to the poorest;
  • providers of internet access;
  • providers of information about local and national government services.

(See also Financial Times, June 28th 2000, p. 1; Financial Times, June 29th 2000, p. 7; Times, June 29th 2000, p. 8; Guardian, June 29th 2000, p. 8; Daily Telegraph; June 29th 2000, p. 14)

SCOTLAND DIVIDED : POVERTY, INEQUALITY AND THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT.

G. Mooney and C. Johnstone

Critical Social Policy, vol. 20, 2000, p. 155-182.

Articles focuses on the ways in which the new Labour-dominated Scottish Parliament has begun to approach the problem of poverty in Scotland and whether there are any differences from the policies of the Westminster government. Argues that policy in Scotland is heavily influenced by New Labour thinking. Poverty is defined in terms of social exclusion, the buzz term of New Labour, and emphasis is placed on paid work as the escape route for those trapped in poverty.

AN URGENT NEED FOR GROUP THERAPY

B. Jupp

Public Finance, May 19th-25th 2000, p. 20-22

New Labour has invested heavily in promoting a partnership approach to chronic social problems through initiatives such as Employment Zones, Education Action Zones and Health Action Zones etc. However many partnerships are failing to live up to their potential, with voluntary groups reporting mounting frustration and local authorities feeling overwhelmed by the number of partnerships they are expected to join. A possible solution lies with using the services of specialist brokers to spot synergies and bring partners together to their mutual benefit.

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