Click here to skip to content

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

DESPERATELY SEEKING A SOLUTION: SOCIAL DEMOCRACY, THATCHERISM AND THE 'THIRD WAY' IN BRITISH WELFARE

M. Rhodes

West European Politics, vol.23, Apr. 2000, p.161-186

New Labour's Third Way, and its innovations in employment and social policy can only be understood against the background of welfare state construction in Britain, the problems faced by all post-war governments in welfare policy and the nature of the institutional solution to those problems implemented by the Thatcher and Major governments. The welfare state was the victim of Britain's economic decline from early on, constantly buffeted by currency and balance-of-payments crises, while the failure of British social democracy to institutionalise a consensus on the social wage contributed to the 'Stop-go' cycle and economic mismanagement. Thatcherism provided a solution to these problems which involved turning the social security system into an arm of employment policy. The legacy of Thatcherism heavily constrains New Labour. The Third Way is an amalgam of modest and incremental innovations that seeks to build on that legacy in the absence of any obvious available alternatives.

GAP BETWEEN RICH AND POOR 'WIDENED'

N. Timmins

Financial Times, July 14th 2000, p.7

The gap between the rich and the poor continued to widen during Labour's first two years in office, new government statistics show. The figures in part reflect Labour's decision to stick to the Conservatives spending plans in its first two years in office. However, Alistair Darling the Social Security Secretary, said that the tax and benefits measures announced in Gordon Brown's Budgets will lift 1.2m children out of poverty by the end of this Parliament.

(See also Guardian, July 14th 2000, p.1, Times, July 14th 2000, p.8).

NEW LABOUR AND SOCIAL EXCLUSION

M. Benn

Political Quarterly, vol.71, 2000, p.309-318

In spite of a raft of anti-poverty policies such as the New Deals for the unemployed, the minimum wage and the Sure Start Programmes New Labour remains committed to free market solutions and pleasing the middle classes. It focuses on lifting people out of poverty through work and the creation of equality of opportunity and avoids wealth redistribution.

NEW LABOUR STAKES EVERYTHING ON SERVICES

N. Timmins

Financial Times, July 17th 2000, p.19

The government's 2000 Comprehensive Spending Review will pump money into the public services. Government has largely assumed responsibility for running these centrally, and failure to deliver improvements will seriously damage its credibility.

PARTICIPATION WORKS: INVOLVING PEOPLE IN POVERTY IN POLICY-MAKING

ATD Fourth World

London: 2000

Calls for the systematic, face-to-face involvement of people with direct experience of poverty in the design, implementation and evaluation of public policy at national and local level.

POVERTY IN SCOTLAND

Scottish Affairs Committee

London: TSO, 2000 (House of Commons papers. Session 1999/2000; HC59)

Makes recommendations for the alleviation of poverty including: 1) integration of health and social care; 2) restoration of the link between the state retirement pension and changes in national average earnings; 3) appointment of a Minister for the Elderly; 4) investment in job creation schemes; and 5) development of a minimum incomes yardstick which is sensitive to local conditions.

PRUDENT FOR A PURPOSE: BUILDING OPPORTUNITY AND SECURITY FOR ALL

Treasury

London: TSO, 2000 (Cm 4807)

From a welfare reform point of view, public spending increases announced in the review will impact on education, the New Deal and community regeneration. Total education spending will rise by 5.4% a year in real terms, but will be linked to tough new targets for schools to be monitored by the Treasury under public service agreements. The New Deal programmes for the unemployed is to become permanent and to be expanded to cover more older people, disabled people and lone parents. A 450m national Children's Fund will be created to protect deprived children at risk of falling prey to drug abuse, crime and truancy. Increased expenditure on housing will be directed to council estates, with some 1.6 bn extra investment by 2004. The money will be spent on modernisation of half a million more council houses.

(For summary see Financial Times, July 19th 2000, p.1 + 2-6; Daily Telegraph, July 19th 2000, p.4-5; Independent, July 19th 2000, p.1 + 7).

PUBLIC SERVICES MAY GET 3 BN MORE

B. Groom and C. Adams

Financial Times, July 13th 2000, p.1

The Chancellor is expected to invest an extra 2bn-3bn a year in public services in the government's forthcoming public spending review. The increased room for manoeuvre stems from lower interest payments on the national debt and reduced welfare payments as a result of falling unemployment and curbs on benefit fraud.

(See also Independent, July 13th 2000, p.2; Times, July 13th, 2000, p.1 + 4; Daily Telegraph, July 13th 2000, p.1 + 2).

SKINFLINT BROWN STILL ISN'T SPENDING ENOUGH

A. Kaletsky

Times, July 20th 2000, p.18

In his Comprehensive Spending Review, the Chancellor plans to raise capital investment in new schools, roads and hospitals by 10% a year, while allowing current spending on services and wages to rise by only 2.5% a year. This will be insufficient to fund the employment of any extra doctors, nurses or teachers, and will not allow the wages to public sector workers to catch up with those offered to comparably qualified professionals in the private sector.

THIS IS THE PRICE OF OUR ADDICTION TO THE NHS

P. Riddell

Times, Aug. 21st 2000, p.16

Argues that public demands for national consistency in the delivery of health and other public services coupled with resistence to high levels of local taxation, mean that those services will be tightly centrally controlled.

TONY BLAIR'S SPENDING SPREE

B. Groom

Financial Times, July 13th 2000, p.23

Total public spending is projected to be 39.5% of gross domestic product in financial year 2001/02 and 40.5% four years after that. Tony Blair is promising more investment in public services, but will need to deliver tangible improvements to satisfy the voters. There is some doubt that the investment in public services alone will be sufficient. For example, reducing preventable deaths among the elderly will require more generous pensions as well as better healthcare from the NHS.

TOO FEW DOCTORS AND TEACHERS

J. Le Grand

Financial Times, July 19th 2000, p.23

Argues that provision of more funding for public services will not guarantee improved standards due to the lack of skilled and trained staff.

WHITHER WELFARE PROFESSIONALISM?

P. Foster and P. Wilding

Social Policy and Administration, vol.34, 2000, p.143-159

Paper examines ways in which doctors, social workers and teachers have been subject to increased political as well as managerial controls over their areas of work in the 1980s and 1990s. It explores the outcomes of the changes for welfare professionals in terms of increased external scrutiny and control. In conclusion, it draws up a balance sheet of gains and losses resulting from the changes.

WILL ALL THIS LARGESSE REALLY SAVE OUR PUBLIC SERVICES?

A. McElvoy

Independent, July 19th 2000, p.2

Argues that their substantial investment in health and education will win the Labour government immediate popularity. It may rebound upon the party in the long term if a) there are not obvious improvements in public services, and b) if an economic downturn forces cuts.

Search Welfare Reform on the Web