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

ECONOMICS OF THE WELFARE STATE. 4TH EDITION.

N. Barr

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004

The fourth edition of this textbook discusses the different parts of the welfare state, in particular, cash benefits, health care, and education. The author argues that the welfare state exists not just to help the underprivileged, but also for efficiency reasons, in areas where private markets would be inefficient or would not exist at all. The book has a new, separate chapter on the economics of higher education, provides more references to developments in the EU and includes a number of forward looking topics:

  • extended discussion of insurance to cover disability and long-term care;
  • challenges to the welfare state including demographic change, globalization, changes in family structure, and changes in the structure of jobs;
  • debates about the welfare state

SPOILT FOR CHOICE

J. Hirst

Public Finance, Sept 24-30th 2004, p.24-27

The New Labour government is committed to policies of choice and competition in the public services as levers to raise standards. However, there is no evidence of a strong public appetite for choice, especially if taxes have to be raised to pay for it.

SUPPORTING INTER-ORGANISATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR: THE ROLE OF JOINED UP ACTION LEARNING AND RESEARCH

P. Mann, S. Pritchard and K. Rummery

Public Management Review, Vol.6, 2004, p.417-439

Successful partnership working between social welfare organisations requires trust and interdependence, where partners have to rely on each other to achieve their own core objectives. The article examines evidence from an action learning and research programme to see whether this work-led emphasis in continuing professional development can support partnership working in the public sector.

'UNPALATABLE CHOICES LIE AHEAD' IN QUEST FOR MORE EQUAL SOCIETY

N. Timmins

Financial Times, Oct. 22nd 2004, p.3

Governments and voters face a set of unpalatable choices, including higher taxes, if the public is to get what it says it wants - a more equal society with good public services. So concludes the study by Professor John Hills, Head of the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion at the London School of Economics. It highlights the dramatic growth in income inequality over the past quarter century: since 1979, 40 per cent of the total growth in disposable income has gone to the richest tenth of the population, while the share taken by the poorest 10 per cent has fallen by a third. Such increases in inequality are not inevitable, he says. Inequality has risen much faster in the UK and USA than in most other countries. Government policy can make a difference. Labour's policies since 1997 have reduced child poverty and have led to gains for those in the bottom half of the income distribution. But reducing inequality while sustaining public health and education, "is not going to become any easier", Professor Hills warns.

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