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

BATTENING DOWN THE THATCHIES

P. Butler
Health Service Journal, vol.109, May 6th 1999, p.12

Reports on the splits that have opened in the Conservative Party since Peter Lilley declared there were limits to the role of the free market in health and education. Lilley's speech has alarmed the Conservative right wing which is fully committed to the free market paradigm, while Tory pragmatists regarded it as a welcome display of electoral common sense.

BEFORE BEVERIDGE: WELFARE BEFORE THE WELFARE STATE

D. Gladstone (editor)
London: Institute of Economic Affairs, Health and Welfare Unit, 1999

Social historians examine the mixed economy of welfare that existed before Beveridge. Book presents a picture of a complex web of interlocking institutions involving family and neighbours, the formal voluntary sector and services delivered by central and local government and the commercial market.

AN END TO WELFARE RIGHTS: THE REDISCOVERY OF INDEPENDENCE

D. G. Green
London: Institute of Economic Affairs, 1999

Argues that welfare reform should be based on high expectations of human potential. We should expect people to make provision for periods in their life when expenditure will be high (e.g. child rearing) or income low (e.g. retirement), and to choose a family structure that will allow them to support any children they have. The Blair government's attempts at welfare reform are doomed to failure because they start from different premises. They assume that those who are not working are prevented by barriers such as lack of child care and that adjusting the system will tempt them into jobs. There are also attempts at anti-family social engineering that will contribute to family breakdown and increase welfare budgets.

EXCLUDING THE CAUSES OF POVERTY

H. Searing
Community Care, no.1270, 1999, p.13

Argues that the Social Exclusion Unit underestimates the part played by social and economic factors outside the individual's control in causing poverty. It implies that in most cases personal inadequacy is at the root of a family's failure to remain self-supporting. In other words, the poor are to blame for their poverty, are creating a problem for society and need to be "brought into line" by being given a chance to learn middle class values.

MODERNISERS NO MORE

P. Toynbee
Guardian, May 21st 1999, p.19

Argues that the heart went out of Labour's zeal for revolutionary reform of welfare when Frank Field was sacked. Instead they thought they could tinker with the system, moulding it into modernity through a series of minor adjustments. However, the rebellion over disability benefit reforms has shown that this approach does not work either. From now on Labour will be on the defensive on the subject of welfare. It is their first big failure.

PRIVATE WELFARE AND PUBLIC POLICY

T. Burchardt, J. Hills and C. Propper
York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 1999

Authors explore the development of private welfare and the role it currently plays in education, health, housing, income maintenance and personal services. Welfare has never been the exclusive preserve of the state. Private involvement has taken many different forms in the provision, finance and control of services. Conclude that the search for an efficient mix of public and private welfare provision is likely to continue, but that opportunities to shift from public to private finance are limited and are likely to prove costly in major areas of welfare.

RESOLUTELY RIGHT

D. Walker
Guardian, May 4th 1999, p.15

Argues that the Tory Party may find it hard to recover any dynamism while its advisory think tanks cling to right wing ideas on social and economic policy.

THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE: A DECLARATION

M. Saatchi and P. Warburton
London: Centre for Policy Studies, 1999

Proposes a mechanism for returning taxation to 1950s levels while providing more funds for health and education. In the first place, the overlap between taxes and benefits should be ended. The objective would be to establish 'crossover points' for each household type, below which people receive benefit payments from the government, and above which they make tax payments to the government. Secondly, the tax system should be simplified by exchanging the existing web of allowances, reliefs, credits, tax breaks and indexations for lower tax rates. Thirdly, selected government departments should be merged, producing a 20-30% saving in administrative costs, all of which could be used to boost investment in health and education.

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