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

Building a social recovery? A first year report card on the Coalition Government

Centre for Social Justice


In this audit of the Coalition government's first year in office, 2010/11, the Centre for Social Justice finds that it has done almost nothing to support marriage, and has unfairly penalised middle-class families through its policy of withdrawing child benefit from any household including a higher rate taxpayer. It is concluded that Conservative family policies have been watered down to placate the Liberal Democrats and shore up the coalition. The report is also critical of the government's decision to cap benefits claims. Under new rules, no household will be able to claim more than 500.00 per week in benefits, regardless of how many members the family has. The report argues that this policy could bring hardship to thousands of large families. However, it is more positive about the government's plans to reform the benefits system, giving his plans to increase work incentives a score of eight out of ten.

Coalition to limit private role in public services

A. Porter

Daily Telegraph, May 4th 2011, p. 8

Leaked documents showed that the coalition government was scaling down its plans to outsource public services to private sector firms. Instead, fearing a backlash from Labour and the unions, they hoped that charities, social enterprises and employee-owned mutual organisations would take up the role.

The Conservative party and social policy

H. Bochel (editor)

Bristol: Policy Press, 2011

With the Conservative Party breaking new ground in forming a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats, this timely book examines the development and content of their approaches to social policy and how they inform the Coalition's policies. Chapters from a range of contributors cover the development of Conservative Party social policy from Thatcher to Cameron. They examine ideological and other influences on the party and its policies, including the inheritance from Labour, public opinion and its approach to public expenditure. They also consider how specific policy areas, such as education, health, employment and social security, may develop as the government seeks to limit public expenditure and replace elements of state provision with services provided by civil society, third sector and private organisations.

Payback time for the PFI?

M. Hellowell

Public Finance, Apr. 2011, p. 30-33

For the past two decades, the private finance initiative (PFI) has been the preferred route for financing the building of new schools and hospitals. PFI has proved very profitable for the private investors, but local authorities and NHS trusts are now struggling to keep up with the payments due to them. Government has launched a programme to review existing PFI contracts, in the hope of reducing costs, but savings to the public purse are expected to be marginal and achieved largely by reducing the quality and quantity of services provided by the contractor. Other potential sources of savings for the taxpayer are: 1) regular reviews of the amount spent on building maintenance by the private contractor; and 2) taxing profits when equity investors sell their shares after the end of the risky construction phase of a project. However, the government appears not to view these 'rebate' options as realistic and remains committed to expensive PFI schemes to fund building of public infrastructure.

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