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Modernising the welfare state

Modernising the welfare state: The Blair legacy

Edited by Martin Powell
Copyright Date: 2008
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  • Book Info
    Modernising the welfare state
    Book Description:

    Tony Blair was the longest serving Labour Prime Minister in British history. This book, the third in a trilogy of books on New Labour edited by Martin Powell, analyses the legacy of his government for social policy, focusing on the extent to which it has changed the UK welfare state. Drawing on both conceptual and empirical evidence, the book offers forward-looking speculation on emerging and future welfare issues. The book's high-profile contributors examine the content and extent of change. They explore which of the elements of modernisation matter for their area. Which sectors saw the greatest degree of change? Do terms such as 'modern welfare state' or 'social investment state' have any resonance? They also examine change over time with reference to the terms of the government. Was reform a fairly continuous event, or was it concentrated in certain periods? Finally, the contributors give an assessment of likely policy direction under a future Labour or Conservative government. Previous books in the trilogy are New Labour, new welfare state? (1999) and Evaluating New Labour's welfare reforms (2002) (see below). The works should be read by academics, undergraduates and post-graduates on courses in social policy, public policy and political science.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-366-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iii)
  3. List of tables and figures
    (pp. iv-v)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vi-vi)
  5. Notes on contributors
    (pp. vii-x)
  6. ONE Introduction: modernising the welfare state
    (pp. 1-16)
    Martin Powell

    This is the third book in what I am terming my ‘New Labour trilogy’. The first book,New Labour, new welfare state(Powell, 1999), was one of the first books to examine the social policy of New Labour’s ‘Third Way’. The second book,Evaluating New Labour’s welfare reforms(Powell, 2002), focused on manifesto promises and Annual Reports. This third book,Modernising the welfare state, looks back at the longest-serving Labour government and Labour Prime Minister in British history, to examine ‘the Blair legacy’.

    This book examines the ‘hand of history’ on Tony Blair’s shoulders, and there is no shortage of...

  7. TWO The NHS after 10 years of New Labour
    (pp. 17-34)
    Calum Paton

    With the accession to the premiership of Gordon Brown, the record of New Labour under Tony Blair’s premiership from 1997 to 2007 can be viewed in perspective. As regards health and the NHS, Brown has affirmed the importance of services to suit the patient (Labour Party conference speech, 24 September 2007; Speech at King’s College London, 7 January 2008), and therefore at one level is continuing the focus on ‘the consumer’. Some of the institutions created by the Blair reforms to the NHS – including foundation trusts, about which Brown was initially sceptical – will continue. But the emphasis has...

  8. THREE Housing policy: coming in and out of the cold?
    (pp. 35-52)
    Brian Lund

    Unlike health and education and, to a lesser extent, social security and social care, the state never attained a dominant role as a direct housing supplier. Moreover, between 1979 and 1997, state involvement in housing provision was ‘rolled back’ so that New Labour inherited a social housing stock – council housing plus state-supported and regulated housing association property – comprising 23% of total housing supply compared with 32% in 1979. Nonetheless, a ‘residual’ provider role does not necessarily mean limited state action to influence the supply and distribution of housing. Thus, in examining Blair’s housing legacy it is necessary to...

  9. FOUR Social security and welfare reform
    (pp. 53-72)
    Stephen McKay and Karen Rowlingson

    The UK social security system is a huge, complex juggernaut that has grown in a largely incremental way over at least the last century (McKay and Rowlingson, 1998). Government spending on social protection (principally social security benefits) takes up around £159 billion, well over one quarter of all public spending and more than the total raised in income tax (£154 billion) (HM Treasury, 2007). Radical reform is rare as the system affects the lives of so many people: state support is received by 70% of households in the UK, with 30% receiving at least half their income from this source...

  10. FIVE Social care under Blair: are social care services more modern?
    (pp. 73-90)
    Mark Baldwin

    From a lukewarm beginning (Baldwin, 2002), New Labour’s social care policy has come to the boil, with the changes introduced symbolic of their ambiguous approach to public policy – full of rhetoric on individual empowerment, but relentless in the unshackling of private capital to develop services. In this chapter I will look at what has changed in social care over the Blair years and how much it has changed. I will look at whether policy development reflects modernisation as conceptualised by 6 and Peck (2004), and evaluate the order of change, if any, from Conservative social policy using the Hall...

  11. SIX Education: from the comprehensive to the individual
    (pp. 91-104)
    Susan Martin and Yolande Muschamp

    A radical programme of reform of education institutions had started before the election of 1997 but was adopted and became the dominating characteristic of Labour’s education policy during the three terms of Tony Blair’s government. However, the programme was not merely a continuation of the previous government’s agenda but an attempt to further transform and modernise the state school system and make it fit for the 21st century (Paterson, 2003). Blair’s commitment to ‘education, education, education’ was unrelenting. Every level of pupil and student engagement in schooling, from the early years to post-16, became the target for proposed reform and...

  12. SEVEN Controlling crime and disorder: the Labour legacy
    (pp. 105-124)
    Sarah Charman and Stephen P. Savage

    When New Labour took office in 1997 few could have guessed that criminal justice policy would become a site of such frenetic activity. Of course Labour’s slogan, ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’, was one of the most prominent features of Labour’s election campaign when in opposition, signalling as it did a sea change in the approach taken by the Labour Party to the law and order question – the strategy being that no longer could Labour be labelled as ‘soft on crime’, something which, in the febrile political atmosphere of Britain in the mid-1990s, could spell...

  13. EIGHT Social investment: the discourse and the dimensions of change
    (pp. 125-142)
    Alexandra Dobrowolsky and Ruth Lister

    This chapter assesses the nature and scope of changes to the welfare state in relation to the ‘social investment’ turn. We argue that Tony Blair’s New Labour governments recalibrated welfare state priorities, programmes and expenditures, both as a response to social risk and to promote economic competitiveness, through an embrace of social investment discourses and practices. While social investment, at its core, is all about activation (that is, labour market policy ‘concerned with helping people successfully master transitions across the life-course’; see Giddens, 2007, p xi), it has nevertheless ‘activated’ far wider realms and actors than initially anticipated, having an...

  14. NINE Risk and the Blair legacy
    (pp. 143-160)
    David Denney

    This chapter examines risk scenarios that have been structured into New Labour policy discourses since 1997. I will argue that the approach taken to risk by New Labour, although complex and sometimes contradictory, can be understood as a feature of late modernity. New Labour, like all governments in advanced capitalist societies, is experiencing and responding to processes of ‘reflexive modernisation’ (Beck, 1992). The work of 6 and Peck will be utilised to identify emergent themes of change associated with New Labour (6 and Peck, 2004a). Central policy variables discussed by Hall will also be used to discuss the extent of...

  15. TEN Going private?
    (pp. 161-178)
    Mark Drakeford

    The opening chapter to this book (Chapter One) provided a comprehensive taxonomy of the ways in which the term ‘modernisation’ in the Blair years was deployed by the government and understood by those who sought to analyse it in action. This chapter focuses on just one of those conceptual categories, the sense in which modernisation has been used to mean a preference for, and a replacement by, private sector means and methods for those utilised in and by the public sector. In doing so private welfare is understood in three main ways (Drakeford, 2000):

    as theownership of assetsand...

  16. ELEVEN Choice in public services: ‘no choice but to choose!’
    (pp. 179-198)
    Catherine Needham

    During the second half of Tony Blair’s premiership, the concept of choice came to symbolise the tensions within the Labour Party over the direction of welfare reform. Although those who were resistant to Blair’s reforms were keen to stress that they were notanti-choice, it was clear that the word had become a rallying cry for the vanguard of Blairites such as Cabinet Ministers Alan Milburn (2001), Stephen Byers (2004) and John Reid (2005). A succession of reports published during Labour’s second and third terms by think-tanks, parliamentary bodies and academics framed choice as the symbolic core of the Blairite...

  17. TWELVE The conditional welfare state
    (pp. 199-218)
    Peter Dwyer

    This chapter utilises the work of Hall (1993) and 6 and Peck (2004) (see Chapter One, this volume) to explore welfare conditionality under New Labour. Hall’s (1993) discussion of policy learning and paradigm shift is useful for analysing the wider importance of the conditional welfare state that has been mapped out by the Blair administrations. Certainly, his discussion of three key policy variables (that is, goals, instruments and settings) provides a useful way for considering the wider significance and long-term impact of New Labour’s welfare reforms. Likewise, consideration of 6 and Peck’s (2004) work highlights that several elements of New...

  18. THIRTEEN The stages of New Labour
    (pp. 219-234)
    Ian Greener

    When Labour came to power in 1997 it appeared to represent a mix of the modern, with its promise to reinvigorate the constitution, and the traditional, declaring itself to be guardian of the welfare state and promising to ‘save the NHS’. How much has Labour’s approach to policy changed in the past 10 years? Has policy under Blair and now Brown formed the basis of a new social policy settlement, or has change been less radical than the government has often claimed?

    This chapter uses frameworks from 6 and Peck (2004a, 2004b) and Hall (1990, 1993) to examine the extent...

  19. FOURTEEN Social Democratic reforms of the welfare state: Germany and the UK compared
    (pp. 235-254)
    Martin Seeleib-Kaiser

    Social Democrats regained power in the UK and Germany in the late 1990s, after long periods spent in opposition. This chapter takes stock of welfare state reforms in both countries and aims to answer whether, and how far, 10 years of Social-Democratic governments have left theirmodernimprints on the institutional set-up of the welfare state, based on Hall’s categorisations of change (1993; see also Chapter One, this volume). As the dimensions of ‘modernisation’ identified by 6 and Peck (2004) are largely peculiar elements of the UK modernisation process, I will refrain from operationalising these in comparative analysis here. A...

  20. FIFTEEN Conclusion: the Blair legacy
    (pp. 255-274)
    Martin Powell

    There are a great number of terms used by supporters and critics to describe New Labour’s social policy (Powell, 1999, 2002; Powell and Hewitt, 2002). They may not be relevant to all sectors, and may apply to different phases of the Labour governments, but they add up to a formidable list of claims:

    modern welfare state

    new welfare state

    Third Way

    new Social Democracy

    progressive agenda

    reformed public services

    world-class public services

    CORA (community, opportunity, responsibility, accountability)

    RIO (responsibility, inclusion, opportunity)

    social investment state

    positive welfare

    crossing the Rubicon (from universalism to means testing; from state to private provision)


  21. Index
    (pp. 275-290)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 291-292)