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

A life raft for women's equality

Fawcett Society, 2011

This report argues that government cuts and reforms of the tax and welfare systems fall disproportionately on women. It recommends the reinstatement of childcare payments for low income families and a rethink of plans to cut child benefit. When the government's fiscal austerity policies are looked at as a whole, they lead to fewer women working, a widening gap in pay between women and men, entrenchment of parental gender roles, increased risk of female poverty and dependence on state and family help.

Autumn 2011 Statement

H M Treasury

London: TSO, 2011 (Cm 8231)

From a welfare reform point of view the Chancellor's 2011 Autumn Statement announced that the government would have to borrow 111bn more than expected to meet its obligations and that families would face further public spending cuts up to 2017. Public sector workers would receive a 1% pay rise in 2014 and 2015 and could lose the right to uniform national pay rates, but the state pension and benefits would rise in line with inflation by 5.2% in 2012. However tax credits for working families would be frozen and the state retirement age would rise to 67 in 2026 instead of between 2034 and 2036. In order to reduce unemployment among young people, a Youth Contract would be launched offering subsidised private sector work experience to those aged 18-24 who had been unemployed for more than three months. On the housing front, millions of council tenants will be offered up to 50% discounts in an extension of the Right to Buy scheme, and the Treasury would underwrite part of the risk of lending to first time buyers. Efforts would be made to kick start house building through a 400m investment fund. The money would help to finance developments with planning permission that have been put on hold due to lack of capital. Finally, in a new early intervention programme, about 40% of two-year-olds in England would get 15 hours of free early education a week. The programme would be aimed at children from the poorest homes and would cost 650m.

Employment implications of the outsourcing of public services to voluntary, not-for-profit organisations

D. Baines and I. Cunningham (guest editors)

International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol. 24, 2011, p. 636-693 The papers in this special issue examine how aspects of voluntary sector employment are being affected by its engagement with the growing trend towards the state-sponsored market-based outsourcing of public service delivery. They highlight how a combination of New Public Management-inspired human resources policies and the credit crunch threaten the mission of voluntary organisations as well as workforce morale, retention and the work which the sector undertakes with some of the most marginalised groups. Overall, in their haste to make cuts and savings in government expenditure by providing incentives for voluntary organisations to reduce employment costs and undermine working conditions, those promoting service privatisation may be sacrificing the very attributes that attracted a dedicated workforce to the voluntary sector in the first place, thus unintentionally reducing their capacity to deliver quality public services.

Volunteers absent among first family champions

N. Puffett

Children and Young People Now, Nov. 1st-14th 2011, p. 8-9

The Working Families Everywhere programme forms a crucial part of the Prime Minister's plan to transform the lives of the 120,000 most troubled families by 2015. The original vision was for the family champions delivering the project to be a mix of paid staff and volunteers. It has emerged that a number of the local pilots delivering the programme have yet to decide whether they will recruit volunteers, with one, Westminster Council, ruling it out altogether.

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