Social Policy in a time of coalition


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A paper by Jude England, Head of Social Science Collections and Research, British Library given at the 2010 ALISS Conference. It discusses the future development of British social policy following the recent general election.

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Social Policy in a time of coalition

  1. 1. Social Policy in a Time of Coalition Jude England Head of Social Sciences The British Library
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Scope of Social Policy </li></ul><ul><li>Welfare State </li></ul><ul><li>Welfare to Work </li></ul><ul><li>The Big Society </li></ul><ul><li>21 st Century Welfare </li></ul><ul><li>Equity and Excellence </li></ul>
  3. 3. Social Reform and the Birth of the Welfare State <ul><li>Poor Law, Friendly Societies and Families </li></ul><ul><li>Bismarck and Blackley </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence: </li></ul><ul><li>- Booth </li></ul><ul><li>- Barnett </li></ul><ul><li>- Rowntree </li></ul><ul><li>- Boer War </li></ul>
  4. 4. Liberal Government Reforms 1908 - 1911 <ul><li>National Insurance Act: </li></ul><ul><li>- Part 1: health care for sick workers </li></ul><ul><li>- Part 2: help for unemployed workers </li></ul><ul><li>Pensions: </li></ul><ul><li>- Old Age Pension Act 1908 </li></ul><ul><li>- 5s per week aged 70+ </li></ul><ul><li>- 1925 extended to 65+ </li></ul><ul><li>Councils given power to provide free </li></ul><ul><li>school meals </li></ul>
  5. 5. The Beveridge Report <ul><li>Origins: </li></ul><ul><li>- Coalition Government from 1940-1945 </li></ul><ul><li>- Condition of conscripts and evacuees </li></ul><ul><li>- Desire to reward sacrifice and resolution </li></ul><ul><li>- Desire to create a more equal society </li></ul><ul><li>- 1944 Education Act </li></ul><ul><li>Content: </li></ul><ul><li>- Giant Evils: Squalor, Ignorance, Want, Idleness, Disease </li></ul><ul><li>- NI for all of working age and benefits paid for sickness, unemployment, retirement, widowed </li></ul><ul><li>- Minimum standard of living ‘below which no one should be allowed to fall’ </li></ul>Lord Beveridge
  6. 6. ‘ Cradle to Grave’ <ul><li>Labour Government 1945 - 1951 </li></ul><ul><li>- Implements Beveridge recommendations </li></ul><ul><li>- Introduces National Health Service 1948 </li></ul><ul><li>- Introduces family allowance (now child benefit) </li></ul><ul><li>- Entitlement to free school meals (charged from 1949, means tested from 1980) </li></ul><ul><li>Post war consensus till 1980s </li></ul><ul><li>Attitudes to claiming and fraud </li></ul><ul><li>Work (dis)incentives </li></ul><ul><li>Equalisation of pension age </li></ul><ul><li>Implications of ageing population </li></ul>Aneurin Bevan
  7. 7. Welfare to Work <ul><li>From 1970s, UK moves from safety net to work incentive philosophy </li></ul><ul><li>US programmes in 1980s and 1990s </li></ul><ul><li>New Labour 1997 explicit commitment to welfare to work reform </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence suggested unemployed and economically inactive wanted to work, as well as highlighting economic and social benefits of work </li></ul><ul><li>Barriers to work: </li></ul><ul><li>- individual skills, experience, social and psychological circumstances </li></ul><ul><li>- structural issues: changes in labour market; benefit system; wage levels </li></ul><ul><li>Redistribution by stealth: increasing benefits to poor families in work, paid through a system of tax credits </li></ul><ul><li>Blair wanted benefits recipients to pull their weight; rights and responsibilities approach </li></ul>
  8. 8. Outcomes <ul><li>Explosion in evaluation and research; evidence based policy making </li></ul><ul><li>DWP Framework Agreement: 60+ suppliers </li></ul><ul><li>Research output e.g. DWP 3.11.09 to 29.7.10, 78 reports: </li></ul><ul><li>- Pensions, retirement age </li></ul><ul><li>- Pathways to work </li></ul><ul><li>- Targeted initiatives: lone parents, drug users, newly unemployed, long term sick and disabled, parents, singe working age benefit </li></ul><ul><li>- Evaluation of Jobcentre Plus </li></ul><ul><li>- Employer surveys </li></ul><ul><li>- 2008 Families and Children Study, parents views on necessities for families with children </li></ul>
  9. 9. 2010 Election Highlights £7,475 tax free threshold VAT increase to 20% Council tax freeze Various welfare benefit changes to save £11bn by 2014/15 HB max limit CB frozen for 3 years Pension age review and 66 State pension linked to earnings Public sector budget cuts except health and aid £10k tax free threshold Single level minimum wage Phase out of university tuition fees Replace council tax with local income tax Scrap compulsory retirement age Cut size of DoH Integrate health and social care: stay at home, cash for carers Commission independent review of public sector pensions The Big Society Academies Emergency budget Pension Age to 66 Sure Start, Early Years Increased patient power Abolition of NHS targets Voluntary insurance to pay for residential care Abolition of Child Trust Fund Create single Work Programme for unemployed Post-coalition budget Liberal Democrat Conservative
  10. 10. The Big Society <ul><li>‘… create a climate that empowers local people and communities, building a big society that will ‘take power away from politicians and give it to people’.’ Downing Street website </li></ul><ul><li>Big Issue classic Big Society idea: </li></ul><ul><li>‘… the Big Issue, which is a social enterprise…. Instead of the state stepping in, this is an organisation that gives (homeless) people something to do…’ David Cameron </li></ul><ul><li>Sceptical response: </li></ul><ul><li>‘… the sink or swim society is upon us and woe betide the poor, the frail, the old, the sick and the dependent’ Mary Riddell The Telegraph </li></ul><ul><li>‘ .. It’s a brilliant idea in theory..’ The Spectator </li></ul><ul><li>‘ We must tackle the scourge of obesity, or the ‘Big Society’ as it’s sometimes known.’ Boris Johnson </li></ul>
  11. 11. Review on Poverty and Life Chances <ul><li>Frank Field to chair </li></ul><ul><li>Terms of Reference: </li></ul><ul><li>- generate a broader debate about nature and extent of poverty in the UK </li></ul><ul><li>- examine the case for reforms to poverty measures, including non-financial elements </li></ul><ul><li>- explore how home environment affects child’s ability to take full advantage of their schooling </li></ul><ul><li>- recommend potential action by government and other institutions to reduce poverty and enhance life chances for the least advantaged </li></ul><ul><li>- consistent with the Government’s fiscal strategy </li></ul>
  12. 12. 21 st Century Welfare Consultative document published 30 th July 2010 <ul><li>5 pathways to poverty: </li></ul><ul><li>Family breakdown, educational failure, addiction, debt, worklessness and economic dependency </li></ul><ul><li>Perceived culture of worklessness and dependency </li></ul><ul><li>Actively putting work at the centre of working-age support: </li></ul><ul><li>‘… We will expect them (the British people) to find work and make sure work pays when they do. They in return will be expected to seek work and take work when it is available. No longer will we leave people for years on long-term benefits without contact or support.’ Ian Duncan Smith </li></ul>
  13. 13. 21 st Century Welfare: problems with the current system <ul><li>Poor work incentives </li></ul><ul><li>Complexity of the system </li></ul><ul><li>Rising costs of state support: 63bn 1996/97 to 87bn in 2009/10 </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple Agencies: DWP, HMRC, Local Authorities </li></ul><ul><li>Inaccurate payments and fraud </li></ul><ul><li>Intergenerational disadvantage and poverty </li></ul><ul><li>Behaviours generated by benefit system </li></ul><ul><li>Begin in poverty, more likely to stay in poverty </li></ul>
  14. 14. 21 st Century Welfare: principles for reform <ul><li>Ensure transparent reward for work outweighs risk </li></ul><ul><li>Incentivise move into work and amount of work </li></ul><ul><li>Increase fairness between groups of benefit recipients and between recipients and the taxpayer </li></ul><ul><li>Support those most in need and reduce numbers of workless households and children </li></ul><ul><li>Promote responsibility and positive behaviour, reward saving, strengthen the family, reinforce conditionality </li></ul><ul><li>Automate processes and maximise self service </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure benefits and Tax Credits system affordable in the short and longer term </li></ul>
  15. 15. 21 st Century Welfare: options <ul><li>Universal credit </li></ul><ul><li>A Single Unified Taper </li></ul><ul><li>Single Working Age Benefit </li></ul><ul><li>Mirlees Model </li></ul><ul><li>Single benefit/negative income tax model </li></ul><ul><li>Plus: </li></ul><ul><li>Conditionality </li></ul><ul><li>Localisation </li></ul><ul><li>Linkages with other forms of labour market and welfare support </li></ul>
  16. 16. 21 st Century Welfare: responses <ul><li>Consultative document references research (DWP, JRF, ONS, HMRC, Cabinet Office, Eurostat, Citizens Advice, CPS, IFS, IPPR) </li></ul><ul><li>General welcome to aim of simplifying the system and improving incentives to work </li></ul><ul><li>Oxfam: need to avoid cutting benefits and recognise difference </li></ul><ul><li>IoD: good to be able to access workforce willing to work less than 16 hours per week </li></ul><ul><li>Scope: take time to talk to disabled people and assess impact on people with very specific and individual needs </li></ul><ul><li>National Housing Federation: cap on HB payments ‘onslaught on the vulnerable’ and cost low paid average of £624 pa </li></ul>
  17. 17. Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS White Paper published 12 th July 2010 <ul><li>Commitment to free, national health service, spending to increase </li></ul><ul><li>By 2013: </li></ul><ul><li>- patients see and share health records </li></ul><ul><li>- easier to find out about services and effectiveness </li></ul><ul><li>- easier to communicate with health professionals </li></ul><ul><li>- more patient rating of care and services </li></ul><ul><li>- more choice: GP, treatment, hospital </li></ul><ul><li>- out of hours and closer to home </li></ul><ul><li>- HealthWatch established </li></ul><ul><li>- localisation, quality not quantity, cut waste and red tape </li></ul>
  18. 18. Who said? <ul><li>Want is only one of the five giants on the road of reconstruction, the others are Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness. </li></ul><ul><li>Four spectres haunt the Poor -- Old Age, Accident, Sickness and Unemployment. We are going to exorcise them. We are going to drive hunger from the hearth. We mean to banish the workhouse from the horizon of every workman in the land. </li></ul><ul><li>In future, welfare will be a hand-up, not a hand-out. </li></ul><ul><li>We are going to end the culture of worklessness and dependency that has done so much harm to individuals, families and whole communities. Our aim is to change forever a system that has too often undermined work and the aspiration that goes with it. </li></ul><ul><li>You cannot feed the hungry on statistics. </li></ul>
  19. 19. In their own words…… William Henry Beveridge British Council Tapes Anselina MMB (BBC Radio Leeds) Making Ends Meet The Century Speaks (BBC Radio Cleveland)
  20. 20. Conclusion <ul><li>Continuity of issues and lessons from history </li></ul><ul><li>Change from safety net, to welfare to work, to work incentives </li></ul><ul><li>Fraud vs stigma vs attitudes to claiming and working </li></ul><ul><li>Role of economic infrastructure: micro and macro </li></ul><ul><li>Complexity and cost of the system(s) </li></ul><ul><li>Contradiction between increased choice vs simplification? </li></ul><ul><li>Critical role of evidence and evaluation </li></ul><ul><li>Legacy in digital publication </li></ul>
  21. 21. Contact Jude England (0)20 7412 7670 Alt extn: 7487 Email: [email_address] Head-Social Science Collections & Research The British Library 96 Euston Road London NW1 2DB Available at © British Library Website