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Welfare Reform on the Web (June 1999): Welfare State - UK

2020 VISION OF BENEFITS FOR A WELFARE SOCIETY

R. Greenhill
Pensions International, issue 4, 1999, p. 13-15

Presents results of a survey on the pay and benefits package as it might develop by the year 2020. The position forecast indicates that employers will be providing the facilities for meeting many of the health and welfare needs of working people in what is already being described as 'The Welfare Society', which will take over many of the responsibilities of the welfare state. However the employer's role is likely to be less paternalistic than is currently the case since employees will have a say in constructing their individual benefits packages, with flexible benefits becoming the norm.

BACKING PARENTS, NOT PRUDES

S. Buckby
Public Finance, Jan. 15-21, 1999, p. 14-16

Argues that promoting good parenting, not bolstering marriage, is central to New Labour's ambitions for tackling social exclusion, building communities and balancing rights with responsibilities. Practical ideas include a parents' helpline, parenting classes, and the Sure Start programme for families in deprived areas that will offer support to those with behavioural or learning problems. Fiscal policy has redistributed money to parents regardless of their marital status through initiatives such as the Working Families Tax Credit and the Childcare Tax Credit. The expansion of affordable childcare and limitation of hours at work through the Working time Directive are intended to help people achieve a better balance between home and work life.

EUROPE? IT'S A KNOCKOUT

L. Elliott
Guardian, Feb. 22 1999, p. 19

Points out that while Anglo-Saxon countries enjoy high employment rates, their poverty rates are also high. This arises in part from the prevalence of low-paid work, and in part from extreme poverty among those excluded from the labour market such as the over 50s and single parents. Alleviating poverty in these excluded groups is the challenge that awaits the government.

MARKETS AND MOTIVES: TRUST AND EGOISM IN WELFARE MARKETS

P. Taylor-Gooby
Journal of Social Policy, vol. 28, 1999, p. 97-114

Article points to two problems with the assumption about the motives and behaviour of individuals making choices within welfare markets current in the mainstream of policy debate. Firstly, individual capacity for instrumentally rational choice is constrained by psychological and practical factors which are likely to result in lower levels of future provision than are necessary to meet the needs people recognise. Secondly, markets in welfare are likely to depend to a greater extent than elsewhere on a normative framework of trust, due to the importance of professional judgements and the difficulty for the lay person of assessing relevant future risks and the products available to meet them.

NEW WELFARE: AN ANALYSIS OF THE GOVERNMENTS APPROACH

R. Lister
Community Practitioner, vol. 72, no. 2, 1999, p. 19-22

The government's guiding principle for welfare reform is 'work for those who can, security for those who cannot'. While it is clear about the first part of its strategy, it does not, in fact, have coherent policies to ensure the security of those who cannot work. Such policies would include a revitalised social insurance scheme, and redistribution of wealth through the tax and benefit system. An anti-poverty strategy cannot be built solely on welfare to work.

POVERTY, EXCLUSION AND NEW LABOUR

P. Stepney, R. Lynch and B. Jordan
Critical Social Policy, issue 58, 1999, p. 87-107

Argues that a simplistic and moralistic view of poverty and social exclusion was developed by the Conservatives in the 1980s and popularised by the media in the 1990s. Arguments about dependency, obligation and responsibility, first deployed against black 'welfare mothers' and young people in the USA, were imported into Britain during the Thatcher years, and have since exerted influence on both the Major and Blair administrations. Political advantage was sought in linking these discourses with mainstream fears about job losses and rising tax rates. An alternative approach is suggested that would involve poor people as willing and energetic partners in the regeneration of their communities, rather than coercing them into the formal economy.

POVERTY TO BE MONITORED BY ANNUAL AUDIT

S. Buckby
Financial Times, Feb. 19th 1999, p. 8

Reports announcement by Alistair Darling that the government is to publish an annual poverty audit, including assessments of unemployment, health and housing. Criteria may include the number of children in workless households and the number of households where no-one has ever worked.

(See also Times, Feb. 19th 1999, p. 10; Guardian, Feb. 19th 1999, p. 10)

SPENCER'S FUTURE OF WELFARE: A VISION ECLIPSED

J. Offer
Sociological Review, vol. 47, 1999, p. 136-162

Argues that Herbert Spencer's work on private beneficence (which today would be called informal care) and the administration of justice should be seen as significant in the history of social theory and in understanding the present day rediscovery of informal welfare.

USERS AS CITIZENS: COLLECTIVE ACTION AND THE LOCAL GOVERNANCE OF WELFARE

M. Barnes
Social Policy and Administration, vol. 33, 1999, p. 73-90

Paper considers the significance of self-organization amongst users of mental health services and amongst disabled people in the context of renewed interest in nations of community and citizenship in public policy-making.

WHAT THEN WAS UNTHINKABLE?

F. Field
Crucible, Jan.-Mar. 1999, p. 16-30

Explains that rethinking welfare provision while Labour was in opposition involved challenging the size and growth of the social security budget, the belief that welfare was an island unto itself, and the idea that entitlement should be based on citizenship rather than on earned contributions to society. Commitment to universal provision was maintained, but it was acknowledged that this could be achieved by state partnership with the private and mutual sectors. Finally, welfare reform was linked to the aim of achieving a renaissance of civil society through, for example, the encouragement of membership-owned organisations.

COMPACT ON RELATIONS BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND THE VOLUNTARY AND COMMUNITY SECTOR IN ENGLAND

Home Office
London: TSO, 1998 (Cm 4100)

The Compact sets out undertakings by both the Government and the voluntary and community sector. Government undertakes to:

  • recognise and support the independence of the sector;
  • develop in consultation with the sector a code of good practice to address principles of good funding;
  • recognise the importance of infrastructure to the voluntary sector and support its development at national, regional and local level;
  • take account of the needs and interests of those parts of the sector which represent disadvantaged groups.

The voluntary sector undertakes to develop quality standards, involve users in development of activities, and promote best practice and equality of opportunity.

SOCIAL WELFARE AND SOCIAL VALUES: THE ROLE OF CARING PROFESSIONS

R. Hagman
Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1998

Discusses the extent to which the marketisation of health and welfare institutions has subverted the traditional values of the professional workers who deliver the services. Sets out a normative agenda that might provide an alternative framework of values to the neo-liberal and neo-conservative principles that currently underpin the new culture of quasi-markets and resource-led models of service delivery.

THE VOLUNTARY SECTOR, THE STATE AND CITIZENSHIP IN THE UNITED KINGDOM

P. Hudson
Social Service Review, vol. 72, 1998, p. 466-492

Article examines how the conservative governments in power from 1979 to 1997 attempted to graft the qualities attributed to the market place onto social welfare provision. The most significant of those attributes was choice, a rich array of which the free market was supposed to offer the populace to meet its needs. It is argued that such an ideology of choice has led to a redefinition of the concept of citizenship.

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