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

MARKET MEANS AND WELFARE ENDS: THE UK WELFARE STATE EXPERIMENT

P. Taylor-Gooby, T. Larsen and J. Kananen

Journal of Social Policy, vol.33, 2004, p.573-592

New Labour is seeking an approach whereby welfare policy supports rather than obstructs the operation of a market system and contributes to the economic goal of competitiveness in a more open national economy, but at the same time ensures that the needs of citizens are effectively met. Article reviews the background to this change of approach, considers its significance, describes policy in key areas and assesses its strengths and limitations. New Labour has achieved real success in mobilizing the workforce, broadening opportunities for women and reducing poverty. However the approach faces intractable problems in stimulating and regulating private providers of welfare, and limitations in the extent to which it is able to reduce poverty amongst working age adults not in the labour market.

MORE CHILDLESS ADULTS IN POVERTY

J. Carvel

The Guardian, Jan. 12th 2005, p.10

Poverty among childless adults of working age has grown to record levels since Tony Blair came to power in 1997, according to an independent analysis of Labour's performance by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Working adults without children have been left behind by Gordon Brown's tax and benefit reforms, said the study. Although many people had gained from rising living standards and falling unemployment, large numbers depended on benefits whose value had been frozen.

(See also Financial Times, Jan. 12th 2005, p.2)

A MORE EQUAL SOCIETY? NEW LABOUR, POVERTY, INEQUALITY AND EXCLUSION

J. Hills and K. Stewart

Bristol: Policy Press, 2005

The New Labour government has taken the eradication of poverty and social exclusion very seriously, recognising the wide range of problems faced by Britain in the mid-1990s. High profile targets have been set for the ending of child poverty and area-based disadvantage, but there are no targets for working-age poverty, for poverty of the population as a whole or for overall inequality. Child poverty has been reduced by the government's tax and benefit reforms and detailed analysis of family spending patterns suggests that higher incomes for parents are having a good effect. However, working-age adults without children have not been helped and poverty rates for this group reached record levels in 2002/03.

OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL: THE STRENGTH TO TAKE THE LONG-TERM DECISIONS FOR BRITAIN

Treasury

London: TSO, 2004 (Cm 6408)

The 2004 Pre-Budget report presents updated assessments and forecasts for the economy and public finances, reports on how the Government's policies are helping to deliver its long-term goals and describes the reforms the Government is considering ahead of budget 2005. The Pre-Budget report:

  • shows the economy is growing strongly and the Government is meeting its strict fiscal rules for the public finances;
  • announces a ten-year strategy for childcare, setting out the Government's vision of affordable, flexible, high-quality childcare for all parents who need it; an extension of paid maternity leave to nine months from April 2007; and improvements to the childcare element of the Working Tax Credit ;
  • gives employers the opportunity to access free and flexibly delivered training for their low skilled employees through a National Employer Training Programme, and new measures under the New Deal for Skills;
  • announces a payment of £350 to households with someone over 70, to help with council tax and other living expenses;
  • takes further steps to extend employment opportunity to all, by introducing measures to help people on incapacity benefit who want to return to work, including a major expansion of the successful Pathways to Work Pilots.

RETURNS TO SPENDER

T. Travers

Public Finance, Jan. 21st-27th 2005, p.26-28

Discusses problems involved in measuring the returns, in terms of increased productivity or improved service quality, on the £25bn being invested in public services such as health and education by the Labour government.

WHY THE MIDDLE-INCOME FAMILY IS SHRINKING

B. Barrow

The Daily Telegraph, Jan. 21st 2005, p.6

Hard-working middle class families are having fewer children than they did thirty years ago because they worry about money and they receive little assistance from the Government. Research from the Centre for Policy Studies claims that married working couples who earn average salaries are increasingly unlikely to have more than two children because they are financially stretched by the lack of benefits and tax incentives.

(See also The Times, Jan. 21st 2005, p.4)

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