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

After the protest, the clean up.but coalition sticks to its guns

C. Davies and P. Curtis

The Guardian, Mar. 28th 2011, p. 12-13

The TUC has condemned minority violence as more than 200 people are held in custody over attacks on shops on the day of March for the Alternative on 26 March. The TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said he bitterly regretted the violence that occurred away from the main rally which was attended by circa 500,000 and was hailed a 'fantastic success'. Vince Cable, the business secretary, insisted that the government was listening to citizens exercising their right to lawful protest against the programme of cuts to public spending and welfare, but said the government would not alter its course.

Budget 2011

London: TSO, 2011 (House of Commons papers, session 2010/11; HC 836)

From a welfare reform point of view, chancellor George Osborne's second budget provides for:

  • A cut in winter fuel top-up payments for pensioners. Pensioners over 80 will see their payment reduced from 400 to 300. The allowance paid to the over-60s will drop by 50.00 to 200.
  • The introduction at some point in the future of a flat rate state pension of 140.00 per week for all new retirees
  • Raising the age of retirement in line with life expectancy, so that in future people will retire later, but with a much higher state pension.
  • Allowing pupils to opt out of mainstream schools at the age of 14 to enrol in a series of new university technical colleges to learn a skilled trade. Twenty-four new colleges will be opened by 2014 as part of an 150m plan.
  • Funding of an extra 40,000 apprenticeships for young unemployed people. A further 10,000 advanced apprenticeship places will also be offered as part of an 180m scheme to generate jobs. An extra 80,000 work experience placements will be created over the next two years on top of the 20,000 already announced.
  • Deposits to be offered to first-time buyers to help them onto the property ladder. Under the 250m FirstBuy programme, buyers will be required to contribute 5% of the deposit on a property, with 20% injected by the government and the builder in the form of a low interest equity loan. The scheme is limited to new properties and funding will only be available for 10,000 first-time buyers.

The distributional consequences of the 2010 Spending Review

T. Horton and H. Reed

Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, vol.19, 2011, p. 63-66

The UK government's 2010 spending review marked the beginning of the most severe period of fiscal retrenchment in Britain for more than 30 years. This analysis of the impact of the review modelled the effects of 48bn of cuts to government spending programmes, excluding benefits and tax credits, by household income decile. Cuts to educational services affected poorer households more than richer households in cash terms. Cuts in social care and social housing spending have a big impact on the poor, but little or no impact on the richest households.

Equality and human rights in Britain

S. Riddell and N. Watson (editors)

Social Policy and Society, vol.10, 2011, p. 191-267

In the first ten years of the 21st century the British government introduced radical changes to its equality policy. These changes included the creation of a single equalities body, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC); the expansion of the equality terrain to include age, sexuality and sexual orientation, and faith and belief in addition to gender, race and disability as protected grounds; the decision to coalesce human rights and equality legislation under the direction of the EHRC; the development of an Equalities Framework; the promulgation of a new Equality Act (2009) with the aim of creating a single legal framework to cover all equality legislation together with the development of specific Equality Duties for the public sector around the areas of gender, race and disability with the aim of mainstreaming equality. This themed section presents a series of articles that examine these changes with a view to documenting some of their early impacts.

The human cost of the cuts

A. Gentleman

The Guardian, Mar. 25th 2011, p. 1 and 14-19

From the first of April 2011 thousands of publicly funded services will be lost, possibly forever, with devastating consequences, a special six page report finds.

Tests to check 'life chances'

R. Prince

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 31st 2011, p. 1 + 2

Annual tests will be carried out on the entire population at seven stages up to the age of 30 to measure how far 'life chances' are improving. The indicators will be announced in a Social Mobility Strategy to be published in April 2011. Headline data will be published so that the public can hold the government to account on its record in promoting social mobility. In spite of claims that the policy will help the middle classes, most of the indicators are targeted on those with the lowest incomes. They include:

  1. low birth weights among different social groups
  2. differences in school readiness among social groups
  3. attainment at school
  4. percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds participating in education or training
  5. numbers of children educated at state and private schools getting places at elite universities.
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