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

ACCESS TO SERVICES WITH INTERPRETERS: USER VIEWS

C. Alexander and others

York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2004

People who speak little English need interpreters to access health, legal, social welfare and education services. They regard a good interpreter as someone who empathises with clients, helps with understanding procedures, and pleads their case. The personal character, attitude and trustworthiness of an interpreter are seen as crucially important. There is a lack of knowledge about who is a professional interpreter and how to get access to one. People mostly prefer family or friends to interpret for them. They trust them because they have an ongoing relationship with them that includes emotional commitment and loyalty. Researchers conclude that training in the basics of interpreting should be made more widely available to members of minority ethnic communities who act as interpreters for family and friends.

BREAKING THE CYCLE: TAKING STOCK OF PROGRESS AND PRIORITIES FOR THE FUTURE

Social Exclusion Unit

London: 2004

The report shows that the tide is turning on some of Britain's most deeply rooted social problems. Evidence suggests that the government's investment and reform programme, particularly support for vulnerable families, is delivering. The report shows significant progress in bringing people into work, investing in children to break the cycle of disadvantage, and reversing deep-seated social problems, with a 70% reduction in rough sleeping. It sets four cross-cutting priorities:

  • sustaining progress to tackle intergenerational disadvantage;
  • keeping up the pressure on economic causes of exclusion such as worklessness;
  • following through the commitments made in the recent spending review on health inequalities, educational under-attainment, homelessness and crime reduction;
  • reaching the most disadvantaged with public services.

CHOICE IN PUBLIC SERVICES

Audit Commission

2004

The paper reports the results of a Mori poll of 1063 British adults. It found that 43% of respondents agreed that it is absolutely essential to have choice in schools for special needs children, but only 36% held that the taxpayer should have to fund this. The least privileged people are most in favour of choice, and more respondents from the North and Midlands rate choice as "absolutely essential" than from the South. The paper concludes that most people want choice provided it costs nothing. The challenge is to improve the responsiveness of public services in a cost effective and fair way.

OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL: SIXTH ANNUAL REPORT 2004

Department for Work and Pensions

London: TSO, 2004 (Cm 6239)

The report shows that the government is making significant progress in its efforts to eradicate child poverty, achieve full employment, provide security for those unable to work, provide security and independence in retirement, and deliver high quality public services. Significant achievements include:

  • large falls in the proportion of all people below "absolute" low income thresholds;
  • 600,000 fewer children in relative income poverty since 1997 (before housing costs);
  • 2.1 million fewer children in absolute poverty since 1997;
  • fuel poverty has been more than halved from 3.3 million households in 1998 to 1.4 million households in 2001;
  • educational attainment levels at 16 years are improving;
  • highest employment rate of the major industrialised countries.

THE ORANGE BOOK: RECLAIMING LIBERALISM

P. Marshall and D. Laws (Eds.)

Profile Books: 2004

The article proposes a controversial new agenda for the Liberal Democrats, including:

  • a social insurance funded NHS in which a range of providers offer services;
  • repatriation of all social policy from Brussels;
  • enforced literacy education for all prisoners.

STABILITY, SECURITY AND OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL: INVESTING FOR BRITAIN'S LONG -TERM FUTURE: 2004 SPENDING REVIEW: NEW PUBLIC SPENDING PLANS 2005-2008

HM Treasury

London: TSO, 2004 (Cm 6237)

The report details the government's 2004 Spending Review, which sets departmental spending plans for the next three years. These should contribute to the creation of a fairer society, with stronger communities and will provide, amongst other things:

  • additional resources for children, delivering 2500 Children's Centres by 2008;
  • resources to help eradicate child poverty, with a new target to halve the number of children in low income-households by 2010;
  • increased resources for health;
  • resources to tackle crime and fear of crime, increasing the number of Community Support Officers by 20,000 by 2008;
  • a 50% increase in new social house building, delivering an extra 10,000 homes per year and funded by an increase in direct investment, an expanded PFI programme and significant efficiencies to turn round the growth in homelessness.

TIME, SOCIAL JUSTICE AND UK WELFARE REFORM

T. Fitzpatrick

Economy and Society, Vol.33, 2004, p.335-358

The author draws on the work of Goodin and Gorz to develop a liberal theory of socio-temporal justice, in which issues of time are allowed to converge directly with issues of social justice. This theory is then used to examine some recent developments in UK welfare reform, including life-course dynamics, work-life balance and flexible retirement.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO STAKEHOLDING?

R. Prabhakar

Public Administration, Vol.82, 2004, p.567-584

In 1996 Tony Blair announced in a speech in Singapore that "stakeholder capitalism" would define New Labour's programme in office. Startled by the barrage of criticism from Conservative politicians, Blair stopped referring to stakeholding. However, the stakeholding approach has still influenced policies on public service reform. The New Labour government has pursued stakeholding policies in the establishment of Network Rail and foundation hospitals as public benefit companies, in local government reform and in asset-based welfare.

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