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Welfare Reform on the Web (April 2004): Welfare State - UK

BUDGET 2004: PRUDENCE FOR A PURPOSE: A BRITAIN OF STABILITY AND STRENGTH (PDF format)

H M Treasury

London, 2004

Budget 2004: main points:

  • Housing
    • the government promotes rapid expansion of low-cost housing
  • Health Service
    • NHS to get 10% cash rise every year until 2008
  • Unemployment and social exclusion
    • Britain closer to full employment than for a generation
    • a New Deal for Skills will be set up, offering the employed as well as the unemployed, a one-stop shop skills service
    • Sure Start budget to rise by 17%
  • Pensioners
    • the existing tax schemes for pensions to be replaced with single lifetime allowance
  • Social Security
    • low-income families benefit from rise in tax credits which come into effect in April

OVERCOMING DISADVANTAGE: AN AGENDA FOR THE NEXT 20 YEARS

N. Timmins

London: Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2004

How should the United Kingdom approach the task of overcoming poverty and social exclusion in the next 20 years? Five leading think-tanks offer their long-term policy prescriptions for tackling disadvantage. Views ranging from left of centre to the centre right are represented by authors from IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research), the Social Market Foundation and the Policy Exchange. These contributions are complemented by chapters from the Scottish Council Foundation and The Institute of Welsh Affairs examining poverty issues from the different perspectives of their 'home nations'. Some big political themes, including the level of income redistribution and the proper balance between universal and means-tested benefits, leave the authors divided. But the chances of an agreement about aims, if not means, are shown to be higher than for many years.

PROMOTING WELFARE?

P. Leonard

Bristol: Policy Press, 2004

As citizens we need information to exercise our social rights and responsibilities. However provision of information about welfare services is patchy and the 'information poor' are often disadvantaged in accessing to those services. This book explores how government information policies directly influence which service users claim their entitlements. The book:

  • compares the rhetoric of claimants' rights with the realities of information provision;
  • uses the example of the increasingly complex social security system to consider the citizenship status of claimants;
  • focuses on government policies rather than on psychological, attitudinal or deprivational explanations for levels of take-up;
  • uses historical and contemporary evidence, including interviews with policy makers, to explore information policy.

TACKLING SOCIAL EXCLUSION: TAKING STOCK AND LOOKING TO THE FUTURE: EMERGING FINDINGS

Social Exclusion Unit

Wetherby: Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, 2004

The paper shows that since the formation of the Social Exclusion Unit, the government has succeeded in halting, and has even begun to reverse, some deep rooted trends in social exclusion. Key measures of progress include:

  • half a million fewer children living in relative poverty since 1997;
  • a 70% drop in rough sleeping since 1998;
  • 200,000 lone parents have moved into work since 1997;
  • a 66% reduction in the number of families with children in bed and breakfast accommodation in 2003/04.
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