Click here to skip to content

Welfare Reform on the Web (July 2001): Welfare State - UK

ALL TOGETHER NOW? - A SURVEY OF LOCAL AUTHORITY APPROACHES TO SOCIAL INCLUSION AND ANTI-POVERTY

Local Government Association

London: IDEA, 2001

Results of a survey of local authorities in England and Wales show that:

  • 75% have agreed social inclusion as a corporate priority;
  • 63% already have social inclusion/anti-poverty strategies in place;
  • over a third of those doing work on social inclusion had developed Best Value indicators to measure the effectiveness of their activities;
  • 71% have established local strategic partnerships to improve the quality of life in a given area.

AMBITIONS FOR BRITAIN

Labour Party

London: 2001

Manifesto hints at further compulsion for lone parents, disabled people and the unemployed to seek and take work. It guarantees that the minimum income guarantee for poor pensioners will rise in line with earnings and promises reform of housing benefit, with a distinction drawn between awards for pensioners and those of working age. On healthcare, it promises more nurses, doctors, beds and funding, with booked appointments and shorter waits for treatment. The private sector will be able to manage new surgery and diagnostic units. On education, it promises that the share of national income spent on education will rise to 5.3% by 2003-04 from 5% at present. By 2006, 1500 of all comprehensives will be specialist schools, faith schools will be encouraged and the private sector will be able to run state schools as well. Proposes that up to one in six of all 14-year-olds should take vocational GCSEs, with a right to apprenticeships at 16.

BLAIR ORDERS THE PUBLIC SERVICES TO DITCH DOGMA AND GO PRIVATE

P. Webster

Times, May 17th 2001, p.1 + 2

If re-elected Labour would continue to invest in public services, at the price of growing use of private sector managers and operators in an attempt to ensure that the cash is properly spent and the services reformed. Services would remain free at the point of use, but would be delivered and managed by the private sector.

(See also Independent, May 17th 2001, p.6; Financial Times, May 17th 2001, p.21; Guardian, May 16th 2001, p.1 + 2).

BOTTOM LINE FOR LABOUR IS TO WIN THE TAX DEBATE

L. Elliott

Guardian, May 14th 2001, p.25

Argues that Labour should propose higher direct taxation to fund increased investment in public services such as health and education.

DISPUTE OVER REAL COST OF TORY TAX CUTS

M. White and N. Watt

Guardian, May 11th 2001, p.5

Reports Labour Party attacks on Tory promises to cut taxes by £8bn. Labour argues that the Tory plans to encourage younger people to switch their national insurance contributions into private funds would destabilise the financing of the state pension. Conservative claims of being able to save £1bn a year on social security fraud and more by cutting back on bureaucracy have also been dismissed as nonsensical by Labour.

(See also Daily Telegraph, May 11th 2001, p.6; Independent, May 11th 2001, p.8; Times, May 11th 2001, p.1).

DOUBTS GREET BIRTH OF "BANK FOR THE POOR"

S. English

Daily Telegraph, May 9th 2001, p.29

Banks have agreed to pay £180m over five years from 2003 to fund the new Universal Bank for the poor. The scheme has been greeted with scepticism by banks and consumer groups, who regard the cash as a subsidy of the Post Office, which will run the Universal Bank, by private industry.

(See also Times, May 9th 2001, p.28; Financial Times, May 9th 2001, p.4).

"ERROR" DELAYS UNIVERSAL BANK FOR THE POOR

J. Mackintosh

Financial Times, Apr. 19th 2001, p.6

The Post Office has proposed that, to avoid the logistical nightmare of benefits claimants trying to open bank accounts through its offices, postal applications could be used.

FREEDOM, JUSTICE, HONESTY: MANIFESTO FOR A LIBERAL AND DEMOCRATIC BRITAIN

Liberal Democrats

London: 2001

On health, offers increased investment in the NHS and more doctors, nurses and beds than Labour plans. Also promises free personal care, as well as free nursing care, for the elderly. On education, offers more teachers, smaller class sizes and replacement of university tuition fees with a graduate tax. On welfare, proposes pension increases costing £1bn in their first year of government, with the largest rises going to older pensioners who tend to be poorer, funded by a new top tax rate of £0.50 on those earning over £100,000 a year. Benefit sanctions in the New Deal would be renewed, and past cuts in benefits for 16 and 17-year-olds would be restored.

GAP BETWEEN RICH AND POOR WIDENS

L. Paterson

Times, Apr. 18th 2001, p.2

Figures from the Office for National Statistics have shown that income inequalities have risen in almost every year of the present Labour government, widening the gap between rich and poor. Britain's poorest households saw 41% of their gross income taken in tax in 1999/2000, compared to about 37% under the Tories. One of the main causes is a rise in indirect taxation such as VAT and tobacco duties.

HOW REALISTIC ARE LABOUR'S PROMISES?

P. Wintour

Guardian, May 10th 2001, p.4

Comments on the Labour Party's election pledges to produce:

  • 20,000 extra nurses and 10,000 extra doctors in a reformed NHS;
  • 10,000 extra teachers and higher standards in secondary schools;
  • 6,000 extra police recruits;
  • low mortgages, low inflation and sound public finances;
  • retention of pensioners' winter fuel payment and a rise in the minimum wage to £4.20 per hour.

(See also Independent, May 10th 2001, p.6; Financial Times, May 10th 2001, p.2; Times, May 10th 2001, p.1 + 2).

LABOUR'S ELECTION CAMPAIGN NEEDS TO EXPRESS ITS VISION AND BELIEFS

P. Mandelson

Independent. Review Supplement, May 14th 2001, p.4

Sets out Labour's core beliefs in full employment, the extension of the New Deals, encouraging all those who can to work, public-private partnerships, and investment in public services.

LABOUR'S LESS THAN UNIVERSAL BANK

J. Mackintosh

Financial Times, May 2nd 2001, p.21

The Universal Banking Service is designed to give basic bank accounts to low income people currently without them and to cut the cost of delivering social security benefits. It will comprise two types of service: an electronic account with a card run by the Post Office and a basic account offered by a number of different banks.

(See also Independent, May 1st 2001, p.16; Daily Telegraph, May 1st 2001, p.28; Financial Times, May 1st 2001, p.1).

NEW PO BANK FAILS TO MEET TREASURY STANDARDS

J. Treanor

Guardian, May 7th 2001, p.18

Reports that the new Post Office card account will only allow account holders to withdraw cash over its counters, and will have no direct debit facilities. This is unlikely to meet the Treasury standards for Charges, Access and Terms offered by bank accounts, which are under development.

SCOTLAND'S TAIL WAGGING WESTMINSTER DOG

I. McWhirter

Public Finance, Apr. 6th-12th 2001, p.16

The coalition government in Scotland has abolished university tuition fees, introduced grants for impoverished students and voted to provide free personal care for old people. English people could now claim unfair treatment under the European Convention on Human Rights, and this is putting pressure on the Westminster government to follow suit.

SOCIAL MOBILITY: A DISCUSSION PAPER

S. Aldridge

London: Performance and Innovation Unit, 2001

Discusses the advantages and disadvantages of a meritocratic society. In such a society the most able and committed people would attain the most desirable, responsible and well rewarded positions. Meritocracy would be promoted by removing barriers to upward mobility through raising educational standards, ensuring access to higher education for all, and encouraging bright children from poor backgrounds to aspire. Upward mobility could be positively assisted by eradication of childhood poverty, increased investment in education and giving people second chances, eg. through access to education in later adult life. However meritocracy implies downward as well as upward mobility, and barriers to this could be removed by higher taxation of investment income, higher rates of inheritance tax and reducing the weight given to geographical catchment area as a determinant of access to the best state schools.

"SPENDING IS NOT ENOUGH. WE HAVE TO REFORM OUR PUBLIC SERVICES TOO"

N. Morris

Independent, May 14th 2001, p.7

Reports speech by Blair setting out his government's guiding themes. These include commitments to reforming public services such as schools and hospitals to make them less bureaucratic and to the creation of a meritocratic society.

STILL WAITING

N. Timmins

Financial Times, May 10th 2001, p.26

Argues that Labour's strategy of setting challenging targets and of centrally imposed inspection and regulation linked to increased funding may not succeed in improving Britain's public services. Suggests that more partnerships with the private sector may be the way forward.

THATCHER LITE TRAPPED BY SACRED COWS OF THE PUBLIC PURSE

L. Elliott

Guardian, May 11th 2001, p.5

In looking for public expenditure savings to fund tax cuts, the Conservatives are hampered by the fact that they dare not cut spending on health, education and transport for fear of alienating the electorate. They are also committed to retaining the national minimum wage and tax breaks for low-income working families. They are being forced to look for elusive savings deep in the machinery of government.

TIME FOR COMMON SENSE

Conservative Party

London: 2001

Party manifesto pledges to fight to save grammar schools, remove the automatic right of teenage single mothers to a council flat, and introduce fast-track eviction for social housing tenants who fail to pay their rent or breach their tenancy contracts repeatedly. Greater freedom will be given to schools by handing head teachers and governors full control over budgets. Regeneration companies will be set up to help rejuvenate rundown areas. Young people will be encouraged to switch their national insurance contributions into private funds and give up their right to a state pension.

TO SPEND OR NOT TO SPEND, THAT IS THE QUESTION

E. Crooks

Financial Times, May 11th 2001, p.8

Under the government's present spending plans, total public spending will rise by an average annual rate of 3.8% ahead of inflation over the next three years, against an expected average economic growth of 2.5%. If public spending growth is to continue at that level for a further three years, and if borrowing is to be kept down, then taxes will have to rise as a proportion of national income.

TORIES LOOK AT TAX CUTS OF £20BN

C. Adams and B. Groom

Financial Times, May 14th 2001, p.1

The Conservatives are considering up to £20bn in annual tax cuts by the end of the next Parliament, under a rolling programme to slash state spending. This leaves them vulnerable to accusations that they will cut expenditure on services such as health and education.

UNIVERSAL BANK LAUNCH DELAYED BY LAST-MINUTE RBS CONCERNS

K. Griffiths

Independent, May 4th 2001, p.15

Reports that the launch of the Universal Bank has been delayed by last minute objections raised by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

WORKING AGE MINISTRY PLAN IN WHITEHALL SHAKE-UP

L. Ward and A. Perkins

Guardian, May 15th 2001, p.16

Reports that Labour would, in its second term in government, create a new Department of the Working Age, overseeing employment, training and social security benefits. This would mean the abolition of the Department of Social Security and have an impact on the Dept of Trade and Industry and the Dept for Education and Employment.