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Welfare Reform on the Web (January 2005): Welfare State - UK

COUNCILS EARN GLOWING REPORTS

P. Hetherington

The Guardian, Dec. 16th 2004, p.10

Councils are on the verge of becoming more efficient than big business in the wake of a new report showing that the services they have provided have improved considerably in two years. Two-thirds of the 150 big English authorities are now classed as either "excellent" or "good" by the Audit Commission in a five-category ranking, compared with just over half in 2002.

THE ETHICS OF WELFARE: HUMAN RIGHTS, DEPENDENCY AND RESPONSIBILITY

H. Dean (ed)

Bristol: The Policy Press, 2004

Britain's New Labour government claims to support the cause of human rights. At the same time it says we have no rights without responsibility and that dependency is irresponsible. This book offers a critique of this paradox and discusses the ethical conundrum it implies for the future of social welfare. The book explores the extent to which rights to welfare are related to human inter-dependency on the one hand and the ethics of responsibility on the other. The book:

  • explores the concept of dependency, responsibility and rights and their significance for social citizenship;
  • draws together findings from a range of recent research that has investigated popular, political, welfare provider and welfare user discourses;
  • discusses, in a UK context, the relevance of the recent Human Rights Act for social policy;
  • presents arguments in favour of a human rights based approach to social welfare.

IMPROVING SERVICE DELIVERY FOR DISADVANTAGED ADULTS: HAVE YOUR SAY

Social Exclusion Unit

London: 2004

The Unit is working on a new project to make mainstream public services (health, housing, education and training, social security and employment services) more effective for disadvantaged adults of working age. It will focus on people with poor basic skills, people with disabilities and/or long-term health conditions, and people from certain ethnic minorities. The Unit is seeking views from services and from disadvantaged adults themselves.

web linkMONITORING POVERTY AND SOCIAL EXCLUSION 2004

G. Palmer, J. Carr and P. Kenway

2004

The New Policy Institute has updated its annual analysis of indicators of poverty and social exclusion. Results show that:

  • the number of people living in low-income households continues to fall, but all of this fall has been among children and pensioners. The number of working age adults without children on low incomes has risen in recent years;
  • progress in reducing the numbers of economically inactive people who want paid work and numbers of people out of work due to sickness and disability has been disappointing;
  • jobs at the bottom end of the labour market are insecure and more than half of people in them are not contributing to a non-state pension;
  • progress in increasing the number of young adults with an adequate minimum level of educational qualification has now stalled, with no advance since 2000.

MONITORING POVERTY AND SOCIAL EXCLUSION IN SCOTLAND 2004

G. Palmer, J. Carr and P. Kenway

York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2004

Overall, four key issues emerge from the review: problems faced by working age adults without dependent children, the poor quality of jobs at the bottom end of the labour market, Scotland's relative ill-health, and the difficulties facing the economically inactive who want paid work but are not officially unemployed.

POOR TRANSITIONS: SOCIAL EXCLUSION AND YOUNG ADULTS

C. Webster and others

Bristol: Policy Press, 2004

This in-depth study of some of the poorest neighbourhoods in Britain has revealed how young people's early experience of disadvantage continues into adulthood. Young people's persistent search for employment led only to low-paid temporary work which was often exploitative in nature. Poor quality work accompanied by poor training and few qualifications offered little hope of improvements in job prospects. Informal contacts were more effective in the search for jobs than training or education. For mothers, precarious childcare arrangements restricted paid employment. Despite numerous regenerative initiatives in the study area over many years, the impoverished situations of most interviewees remained unchanged. Such initiatives appear to have channelled people to, and then trapped them in, poor quality and precarious work.

SINGLE ADULTS BECOME 'THE FORGOTTEN POOR'

M. Firth

The Independent, Dec. 1st 2004, p.8

A new class described as the "forgotten poor" - working-age adults with no children - is on the increase in Britain leaving a growing underclass of adults in deprivation. According to a new report, while poverty among children and pensioners has declined, rising numbers of adults are blighted by low pay, homelessness and poor health. The report, by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the New Policy Institute found that last year 12.4 million people were living in low-income households (defined as 60 per cent of median income), compared with 14 million eight years ago.

SUPER-RICH HAVE DOUBLED THEIR MONEY UNDER LABOUR

J. Carvel

The Guardian, Dec. 8th 2004, p.9

The wealth of the super-rich has doubled since Tony Blair came to power, according to a report on social inequality produced by the Office for National Statistics. Nearly 600,000 individuals in the top 1% of the UK wealth league owned assets worth £355bn in 1996, the last full year of Conservative rule. By 2002 that had increased to £797bn, the ONS said. Part of the gain was due to rising national prosperity, but the top 1% also increased their share of national wealth from 20% to 23% in the first six years of the Labour government. Meanwhile the wealth of the poorest 50% of the population shrank from 10% in 1986 towards the end of the Thatcher government's second term to 7% in 1996 and 5% in 2002.

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