Changing Directions of the British Welfare State

Changing Directions of the British Welfare State

Gideon Calder
Jeremy Gass
Kirsten Merrill-Glover
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
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  • Book Info
    Changing Directions of the British Welfare State
    Book Description:

    A unique and timely survey, by prominent academics and social campaigners, of the evolving priorities of the British welfare state, and the values which have underpinned it.

    eISBN: 978-0-7083-2547-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
    (pp. v-vi)
    Huw Edwards

    I was delighted when approached by the University of Wales, Newport to write a foreword to this publication. The welfare state is something that the British public has always been proud of and, indeed, it has been the envy of other countries throughout the world.

    In 1942, William Beveridge (1879–1963) published his report on the way forward for Britain after the Second World War. Beveridge’s report identified five ‘giant evils’ that were prevalent at that time – Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness. These are addressed in the first part of the book. The year 1945 brought about a...

    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    (pp. 1-14)
    Gideon Calder, Jeremy Gass and Kirsten Merrill-Glover

    The British welfare state has never been a simple ‘given’ – a static thing, with fixed purposes, agreed-upon parameters, a single guiding strategy or ideological guarantees. Rather it has been a shifting project, in all such respects. It remains so. As we pass the seventieth birthday of the Beveridge Report, fast-moving, controversial reforms of, for example, health, welfare benefits and legal aid are under consideration. On the one hand, throughout these shifts, the idea that the state should set minimum standards of welfare – in health, housing, education and primarily income – has persisted. Yet on the other hand, what...

    (pp. 15-16)
  9. Part 1: The ‘five giants’
    • 1 WANT: ‘What the British people desire’: the rise and fall of insurance-based social security
      (pp. 19-43)
      Peter Kenway

      To ask, after the passing of its sixtieth anniversary, how far the British welfare state has achieved its original aims with respect to the abolition of ‘want’ was to ask a question with acute contemporary relevance. For at the start of 1999, a still new Labour prime minister declared the goal of eliminating child poverty within a generation. The fact that Labour’s principal tool for doing this was the welfare state means that, looking back after the 2010 general election, we are in a position to offer a post-mortem on this new attempt to reach the old goal.

      This new...

    • 2 DISEASE: Social democracy, health inequalities and the welfare state
      (pp. 44-64)
      Michael Sullivan

      The National Health Service was established over sixty years ago, an achievement often (and understandably) attributed to the Welsh, working-class, post-war Labour minister of health, Aneurin Bevan. Without that political colossus, the development of socialised medicine, as part of a welfare state, might have been thwarted – or at least delayed – by the posturing of the medical profession and the lukewarm attitude of the Conservative opposition.

      Seventy years ago saw the publication of the report of an aristocratic academic cum wartime civil servant, which provided the legitimacy and rationale for the NHS as one of the state institutions which...

    • 3 IGNORANCE: Combating ignorance: education, social opportunity and citizenship in Wales
      (pp. 65-83)
      Gareth Rees

      Education has occupied a somewhat ambiguous role in the post-war development of the welfare state, both in Wales and across the UK more widely. Certainly, it was identified as one of Beveridge’s ‘five giants’ in his famous report, which laid the foundations for many aspects of the welfare state during much of the second half of the twentieth century. However, Beveridge had nothing to say about the actual provision of educational services, and education was semidetached from his mainstream concerns with income support, health insurance, pensions and so forth. Nevertheless, there can be little doubt that educational opportunities have come...

    • 4 SQUALOR: Shifting boundaries: people, homes and the state since 1945
      (pp. 84-97)
      John Puzey

      This chapter focuses on the relationship between housing and the state in the UK since the Second World War but with some specific references to developments in Wales. In particular the chapter discusses the changing role of publicly subsidised housing as a means of achieving policy objectives.

      The relationship between the provision of homes for people and the welfare state has never been straightforward. Overwhelmingly, most households in Britain have lived in the private sector with the market the main provider. This has left housing, as a public service, operating in a rather ambiguous relationship with the welfare state, indeed...

    • 5 IDLENESS: ‘No longer a problem of industry’? Principles, practice and policy in the early twenty-first century
      (pp. 98-122)
      David Byrne

      It was quickly evident in the wake of the 1997 election that Labour’s approach to welfare reform and the labour market was different to that of any of its predecessors. A dependence on macroeconomic policy to achieve full employment would remain a thing of the past, although Labour would not rely exclusively on private enterprise and market forces. Instead, the benefit system would be turned from a passive provider of financial support into a tool to promote labour market engagement (Fothergill and Wilson, 2007: 1007). This chapter considers the legacy of this approach.

      When William Beveridge wroteFull Employment in...

  10. Part 2: Five challenges
    • 6 GENDER: Continuity and change: gender and welfare
      (pp. 125-140)
      Sandra Shaw

      This chapter will focus on the way that the concept of an ideal family unit and the sexual division of labour within families has underpinned the welfare state. These basic premises have impacted upon the everyday lives of men and women. The power of ideas about the family not only affects women who are wives and mothers, but other women may be defined in relation to idealised versions of what it means to be a woman. Hence, women may be mothers, become mothers, have been mothers or are women who have made the decision not to have children. In addition,...

    • 7 RACE: A very ‘British’ welfare state? ‘Race’ and racism
      (pp. 141-159)
      Charlotte Williams

      The establishment of the British welfare state coincided with the beginning of what would be the largest mass migration of citizens from the Commonwealth countries. Britain was to be gradually transformed by a presence it had neither anticipated nor prepared for. Policy makers engaged in the project of rebuilding the post-war nation did not, or chose not to, foresee the implications of what has been aptly called‘The Irresistible Rise of British Multiculturalism’(Phillips and Phillips, 1998). The British welfare state was not designed with diversity in mind and its institutions reflected a service philosophy that would ultimately prove ineffective...

    • 8 DISABILITY: What rights for disabled people in a welfare state? Need-fulfilment versus identity-assertion and the ‘problem of dependency’
      (pp. 160-176)
      Steven R. Smith

      Tracing aspects of British welfare state history since its post-war inception, this chapter will explore ways in which conceptions of rights have changed during this period in relation to disabled people – reflecting, in turn, different views of the welfare state. On the one hand, we find the welfare state presented as a benign provider of resources for those who are defined as ‘vulnerable’ and ‘dependent’, with a right to have their needs met. Yet, we also encounter a more ambivalent attitude towards state provision in which, as well as supporting disabled people’s rights to ‘independent living’ via paid work...

    • 9 DEVOLUTION: Devolution and the welfare state: the case of Wales
      (pp. 177-194)
      Mark Drakeford

      To provide a chapter dealing with the welfare state and devolution is, inevitably, to be drawn into the history of the Labour Party in Wales. While most of the account which follows will concentrate on developments in the post-1999 context of the National Assembly, an informed understanding of the political currents which still surround the delivery of welfare services in a devolved Wales does require some understanding of the longer-standing antecedents which surround the present day arrangement. This chapter therefore begins with a brief account of devolution issues prior to 1945. It continues with a summary of some key, formative...

      (pp. 195-212)
      Ian Butler and Liz Lloyd

      In March 2008, the UK government had cause to invoke Beveridge as it set out its ‘ambitions’ for ‘eradicating child poverty’ (HM Treasury, DWP, DCSF, 2008: 3). This ‘challenging ambition’ would:

      require one of the most significant changes in the modern welfare state since its creation following the 1942 report by William Beveridge. The Government’s approach to tackling child poverty will be consistent with Beveridge’s view that nothing should be done to remove from parents the responsibility for their children, but that it is in the national interest to help parents discharge their responsibility properly. (Ibid.)

      It would seem that...

  11. CONCLUSIONS: Taking Stock
    (pp. 213-220)
    Victoria Winckler

    This collection of essays is a timely review of the achievements, and shortcomings, of the British welfare state. So ubiquitous have the various services provided by the welfare state become that their provision is in many ways taken for granted, although there is vigorous debate about the detailed provision of those services. As a measure of the extent to which the welfare state has become ingrained, it is virtually impossible to find among political agendas any credible proposals to dismantle it, either in whole or in part. Even in one of the most contested areas, welfare benefits – where arguments...

    (pp. 221-246)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 247-256)