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

Breaking down broken Britain: targeted solutions for the hardest to reach

M. Cavanagh

Public Policy Research, June-Aug. 2011, p. 67-72

The riots in English cities in August 2011 have focused attention on the problems posed by territorial youth gangs and problem families with chaotic lifestyles. Holistic and targeted, rather than universal services, are required to tackle these deep-rooted social problems. Unfortunately the implementation of targeted multi-purpose programmes, such as Family Nurse Partnerships and Family Intervention Programmes, are hampered by bureaucratic limitations and resistance to cross-departmental working in UK government.

Changing fortunes: income mobility and poverty dynamics in Britain

S. Jenkins

Oxford: OUP, 2011

This book documents the patterns of income mobility and poverty dynamics in Britain and how they have changed over the last two decades. It draws attention to the relationships between changes in income and in other aspects of people's lives-not only in their jobs, earnings, benefits and credits, but also in the households within which they live. Trends over time are also related to changes in Britain's labour market and the reforms to the tax-benefit system introduced by the Labour government in the late-1990s.

Fair deal for third sector

A. Arkin

Public Finance, Sept. 2011, p. 32-34

Action for Hearing Loss, like many other charities whose income comes from public sources, is facing income loss. In this interview its finance director, Paul Breckell, argues that people with disabilities are in danger of bearing the brunt of government funding cuts because they do not have a voice in local or national decision making.

The fight for universalism: cuts, targeting and the future of welfare

T. Horton

Public Policy Research, June-Aug. 2011, p. 105-114

Some of the most animated debates about public spending cuts have focused on proposals to restrict the coverage of universal benefits or services, removing them from higher income households or targeting them on the low paid. This paper uses these debates to explore the Coalition government's approach to targeting and universalism, and the prospects for future reform. The Coalition's stance has been one of scepticism about, or outright opposition to, universalism, except in key areas such as the NHS. The author outlines key arguments in favour of universalism as well as analysing the anti-universalist stance. It is suggested that the Coalition will continue to dismantle or target universal programmes, though at each stage focusing on the least popular programmes, and, where possible, trying to offset the loss for households via discretionary tax cuts. Where programmes are popular, such as child benefits or tax credits, evidence suggests that retrenchment will proceed by 'salami-slicing' coverage away in a series stages, ensuring that no single cut applies to a large enough group to generate insurmountable public opposition.

Fighting poverty, inequality and injustice: a manifesto inspired by Peter Townsend

A. Walker, A. Sinfield and C. Walker (editors)

Bristol: Policy Press, 2011

This book makes a vital academic and political statement in the cause of social justice. It begins with an appreciation of the seminal contributions of Peter Townsend (1928-2009), and applies them to contemporary policy debates. It brings together many of the leading contributors to current debates in this field and provides a compelling manifesto for change. It challenges the present direction of social policy and, in particular, the pessimistic analysis of neoliberal policy commentators and governments about the need to cut collective welfare and to promote the primacy of the market and individual self-interest over the provision of security for all.

Theories of performance: organizational and service improvement in the public domain

C. Talbot

Oxford: OUP, 2011

Governments across the world have implemented all sorts of policies aimed at improving performance. But how much do we know about what actually improves performance of public organisations and services? On what theories, explicit or more often implicit, are these policies based? The answer is: too much and too little. There are dozens of theories, models, assumptions, and prescriptions about 'what works' in improving performance. But there's been very little attempt to 'join up' theories about performance and make some sense of the evidence we have within a coherent theoretical framework. This book sets out to begin to fill this gap by creatively synthesising the various fragments and insights about performance into a framework for systematically exploring and understanding how public sector performance is shaped. It focuses on three key aspects: the external 'performance regime' that drives performance of public agencies; the multiple dimensions that drive performance from within; and the competing public values that frame both of these and shape what public expects from public services

Welfare in chaos as thousands live to 100

S. Coates

The Times, Aug. 4th 2011, p. 1, 9

'Chaos ahead for the welfare state in era of the centenarians'. The Pensions Minister announced that figures showed just how great the differences in life expectancy between generations really were in 2011. Britain's ageing population was predicted to live beyond 100 in unprecedented numbers, wiping out budget savings and leaving the State facing crippling health and welfare bills. The new analysis showed that 20-year-olds in 2011 were almost twice as likely to reach their 100th birthday as their parents. The predictions left all three major parties grasping for policies to address the growing costs to the public purse for presentation at the 2015 election.

We won't reverse Coalition cuts, says Balls

A. Grice

The Independent, Sept. 26th 2011, p. 1

Ed Balls, the shadow Chancellor, has banned members of the shadow Cabinet from promising to reverse cuts introduced by the Coalition if they are elected. In an effort to paint Labour as a credible force to run the economy, Balls has requested all frontbenchers to run any figures by him and Ed Milliband before making any announcements.

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