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

No end of a lesson

A. Browne

Public Finance, June 8th-14th 2007, p. 30-32

The Blair era has demonstrated that there is no alternative to market-based reforms of health and education, based on choice, competition, and diversity of supply. Other approaches have been tried and have failed. Instilling market discipline into the public services poses problems but is the lesser evil.

Someone to watch over you

C. Gilbert

Public Finance, June 22nd-28th 2007, p. 24-25

The inspection and regulatory role of Ofsted was expanded on April 1st 2007 to include: child minding and daycare, social care services for children, including children’s homes, family centres and adoption and fostering services, and the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service. The organisation also inspects schools, teacher training colleges and 14-19 provision, work-based learning and funded training, adult and community learning, and children’s services in local authorities.

The 'user': friend, foe or fetish? A critical exploration of user involvement in health and social care

S. Cowden and G. Singh

Critical Social Policy, vol. 27, Feb. 2007, p. 5-23

'User Involvement' is one of the central concepts of the modernisation of public services currently being led by New Labour. This article begins by seeking to understand the historical antecedents of the discourse of user involvement, focusing on struggles over the restructuring and privatisation of British welfare that took place in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Against this background, the authors seek to understand and critique New Labour reforms which have massively expanded state regulation of services and promoted managerialism. Service users have been redefined as consumers and consultants (expert users) in a world focused on targeting of diminishing resources instead of on how welfare might be developed and expanded to meet user needs. It is argued that these policies, far from enabling the delivery of high quality integrated services that truly reflect the interests of users, represent the further commodification of basic human needs and welfare.

Welfare policy under New Labour: views from inside Westminster

H. Bochel and A. Defty

Bristol: Policy Press, 2007

Welfare reform is a central part of the modernisation programme adopted by the Labour Government since 1997. This book examines the role of Parliament in the formulation and scrutiny of welfare policy, focusing in particular on how MPs and Peers view their influence on policy. Based on an extensive series of interviews with MPs and Peers from across Parliament, the book:

  • traces the dynamics of political debate on welfare both between and within parties
  • assesses the emergence of a new political consensus on welfare
  • details the welfare policy environment and the reform of Parliament under Labour
  • examines the extent to which MPs support developments in welfare policy
  • provides the most detailed assessment to date of MPs' attitudes to welfare and their views on the future of the welfare state under Blair and beyond
  • offers the first consideration of the role of the reconstituted House of Lords in the scrutiny of welfare policy.

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