Click here to skip to content

Welfare Reform on the Web (February 2012): Welfare state - UK

The Big Society

Public Administration Select Committee

London: TSO, 2011 (House of Commons papers, session 2010/12; HC 902)

The report warns that the Big Society project is hampered by the lack of a clear implementation plan, leading to public confusion about the policy agenda, eighteen months into this administration. The Government must address the barriers charities and voluntary groups experience in the contracting and commissioning system, which means developing a plan to address roles, tasks, responsibilities and skills in Whitehall departments. The report recommends two major steps Government must take:

  • Firstly they must create a single Big Society Minister, who has a cross-cutting brief, to help other Ministers to drive through this agenda once they begin reporting progress against the aims of the Open Public Services White Paper, from April 2012.
  • Secondly they need to implement an impact assessment, to be applied to every Government policy, statutory instrument, and new Bill, which answers the simple question: 'what substantively will this do to build social capital, people power, and social entrepreneurs?'
The Committee says early examples in practice like the Work Programme have left service providers such as the charitable sector - who would play a major role in the Big Society - with serious reservations. The danger is that big contractors and the largest charities continue to dominate at the expense of small and local providers. EU contracting rules need to be revised and smaller providers should be consulted on the legislative and bureaucratic barriers.

Firms paid up front to help troubled families

T. Ross and G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Jan. 3rd 2012, p. 2

The coalition government has released further details of its plans to tackle 120,000 problem families. Under the plans, an outreach programme would be delivered by public, private and voluntary organisations. They programme would help people find work and assist with parenting skills, money management, alcohol and drug abuse and housing problems. Organisations running the schemes would be paid by results. They would receive up to 40% of the value of a contract in 'attachment fees' once a family had signed up and agreed an action plan. The remainder of the payments would be conditional on individuals finding jobs or making progress in other areas of their lives. The scheme would be paid for with money from the European Social Fund.

Labour urges radical rethink on welfare

P. Wintour

The Guardian, Jan. 3rd 2012, p. 1

Labour called for a radical rethink of the welfare state, arguing that the benefits system had betrayed its founding principles and 'skewed social behaviour'. In a significant redrawing of Labour's position on welfare, the shadow work and pensions secretary, Liam Byrne, argued that the ballooning of the system had provided support that was unearned, and mislaid the original ideal of providing help to those that contribute. Heralding a series of speeches designed to mark out new territory for Labour, Byrne claimed the party must recast the welfare state to meet the original intentions of its founder, William Beveridge

Milliband vows to back public sector cuts - even if union backers withdraw their cash

A. Grice

The Independent, Jan. 18th 2012, p. 8

Ed Milliband, the Labour leader, warned unions that he would not back down from his commitment to cut Government spending, despite their threat to cut their funding to the party if he does so.

Towards a social investment welfare state?: ideas, policies and challenges

N. Morel, B. Palier and J. Palme (editors)

Bristol: Policy Press, 2012

This book questions whether the recently promoted European 'social investment' strategy is able to regenerate the welfare state, promote social inclusion, create more and better jobs, and help address the challenges posed by the economic crisis, globalisation, ageing and climate change. To assess the diversity, achievements, shortcomings and potentials of social investment policies, it brings together some of the best social policy scholars and well-known policy experts, connecting academic and policy debates around the future of the welfare state.

Search Welfare Reform on the Web