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Welfare Reform on the Web (March 2007): Welfare state - UK

Does faith divide us?

B. McPherson

Community Care, Jan. 25th -31st 2007, p. 32-33

The government is encouraging faith groups to act as providers of social care services and as partners in the promotion of social cohesion. However, these groups are mostly interested in providing services for their own faith community, which can be divisive and may not in any way promote cohesion.


E. McLaughlin (editor)

Social Policy and Society, vol.6, 2007, p.49-126

This themed section has arisen from perceptions of a policy ferment around equality issues in the UK; increases in substantive inequality in most European countries, particularly the UK and Ireland; concerns about welfare retrenchment; the development of new theories of egalitarianism; revival of interest in, and use of, international human rights instruments; and the creation of a new equality enforcement agency in the UK. It presents an overview of the new theories of egalitarianism, considers problems of measuring poverty and inequality, and looks at the development of equality law.

MPs’ attitudes to welfare: a new consensus?

H. Bochel and A. Defty

Journal of Social Policy, vol.36, 2007, p. 1-17

Between 1945 and the late 1970s there was broad cross-party support for the mixed economy, maintenance of full employment through Keynesian economic management, and a high level of state welfare provision. This consensus broke down in the 1980s when the Thatcher government committed itself to reducing the role of the state, promoting the private sector, and introducing free-market principles into the delivery of public services. This article uses data from a survey of 10% of MPs to explore the question of whether a new consensus between the three main political parties has emerged. Results show that Labour MPs, aware of the escalating costs of welfare provision, have moved away from universalism towards a targeted approach. At the same time, some Conservative MPs, aware of the high social costs of poverty, have moved away from a strictly minimal approach to welfare towards a more collectivist position, with the appetite for tax cuts significantly less than in the 1980s. There is therefore some convergence on a middle ground defined by financial restraint and the mixed provision of welfare services, targeted on those most in need, while enabling others to help themselves.

Mutualism and health care: British hospital contributory schemes in the twentieth century

M. Gorsky and J. Mohan with T. Willis

Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2006

British hospital contributory schemes flourished in response to the considerable financial challenges faced by the voluntary hospitals in the twentieth century. Their aim was to elicit the support of working-class subscribers in the form of regular contributions to hospital finances. The schemes generated substantial proportions of the income of many hospitals and they accounted for most of the growth in the resources of the voluntary hospitals in the inter-war period. This book examines the historical development of the contributory schemes and relates this history to a range of debates about the advantages and disadvantages of ways of organising and delivering welfare services. It also discusses the schemes’ procedures for ensuring participation, and evaluates the extent to which they were democratic and able to act as champions of consumer interests. Finally, post-war developments and the present position of the schemes and their response to current developments in the welfare state are considered.

New Labour’s community of rights: welfare, immigration and asylum

L. Morris

Journal of Social Policy, vol. 36, 2007, p. 39-57

The New Labour government has consistently made access to welfare rights conditional on the exhibition of certain approved behaviours by claimants. This article explores how this position is played out in the areas of social assistance, immigration and asylum. Access to social security benefits for citizens has increasingly been made conditional on claimants actively seeking work or participating in one of the workfare schemes on offer. Immigrants are granted access to benefits as a privilege if they meet labour market needs. Asylum seekers have been removed from the national welfare system altogether, and offered instead a tailored mode of provision set at 70% of standard benefit. The erosion of entitlement to benefits during status determination has been used as a means of deterrence and control.

Without a song in their heart: New Labour, the welfare state and the retreat from democratic socialism

R.M. Page

Journal of Social Policy, vol. 36, 2007, p.19-37

Since coming to power in 1997, the New Labour government has been criticised by Party traditionalists for failing to follow the democratic socialist path laid out by the Attlee, Wilson and Callaghan administrations. New Labour has clearly indicated it has no desire to create a socialist society. Instead, it has set itself the task of developing a social policy that works with rather than against global capitalism. While New Labour continues to maintain that the welfare state should be used to tackle opportunity barriers, it no longer believes that its task is to extend opportunities for selflessness, enhance social solidarity or deliver greater equality of outcomes.

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