2 h+w in the uk

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2 h+w in the uk

  1. 1. Social Issues in the UK Health and Wealth in the UK Social Class in the UK Social class is the term used to indicate a person’s standing in society. There are various interpretations and measures used but it generally focuses on a person’s income and background. It is often a controversial issue with many different interpretations about class and who belongs to each group. Traditionally Britain was divided into three classes: working, middle and upper. Working class The poorest of the three groups, usually involving people who were unemployed or worked in trades e.g. joiners, electricians, secretaries, etc. These people would have less money, perhaps need government benefits and not own their own home. This was the largest of the social classes. Middle class In general terms the middle class were deemed to be between the other two groups. They were financially better off than the working class (perhaps made them more likely to own their own home, etc) without having the wealth or power of the upper class. This group included doctors, teachers and lawyers. Upper class This group was people who had the most money and power, as well as coming from similar families. People from aristocratic backgrounds, or super-rich jobs such as banking, were often seen to be members. This was the smallest of the social classes. Since at least the 1970s many people have come to regard these labels as being unhelpful, mainly because they do not fully explain a person’s background e.g. more people from ‘working class’ backgrounds now go to university or live in bought homes, which in the past would have denoted them as middle class. As a result there are new theories on class:
  2. 2. W.G. Runciman Walter Runciman argues that there are two groups in modern society; the economically empowered and unempowered. The empowered group have financial stability (spare money, would get another job if they lost it); the unempowered have little money and, if they lose their job, will struggle to get another. Will Hutton Will Hutton argues that modern society is split into three parts. The Bottom 30% live in poverty and are excluded from society; the Middle 30% live in fear of falling into poverty; only the Top 40% are financially secure. NRS grades These are letters assigned to a person depending on their job. Thus Grades A, B and C1 are middle class (upper middle class, middle class, lower middle class) whilst Grades C2 and D are working class (upper working and lower working). Grade E is for the poorest people e.g. homeless, unemployed Traditionally people were believed to vote based on their social class. In simple terms working class voters supported the Labour Party whilst middle and upper class voters chose the Conservatives. However this is also in dispute now, not least because of the rise of other parties such as the SNP or Liberal Democrats. In addition other factors may affect voting too e.g. race, gender, geography, etc. Poverty and its causes There are two main definitions of poverty – both of which are controversial. In simple terms poverty is when someone lives an extremely poor existence, not having the basic requirements to live in a normal life e.g. food, shelter, etc. However many people contend that in modern Britain this does not happen and point to the range of luxury goods that many poor people have e.g. mobile phones, TVs, etc. Some instead talk about relative poverty. This means that people are deemed to live in poverty if they are significantly different what most people in the UK have e.g. even if they have luxury items the fact that they cannot guarantee their income on a weekly basis, cannot financially plan, etc means they live in poverty. 2
  3. 3. There are many opinions about the causes of poverty. In general terms though this is usually blamed on one, some or all of these issues: lack of education or qualifications, unemployment or job insecurity, low income, where you live, personal choices and being from a poor background (the ‘cycle of poverty’). Health issues can play a role, whether this is ill-health (physical or mental) which stops people working) or addiction issues e.g. drugs, alcohol. A lack of education can also cause health problems if people are unaware of how to look after themselves. The Welfare State The Welfare State is the name given to the different types of benefits and support that the government provides to people in the UK. It was introduced to ensure that no member of UK society had to live below a minimum standard and aimed to tackle five major problems (the ‘Five Giants’): Problem Poverty What this means This meant people living very poor lives e.g. no food money Disease This meant people suffering from ill-health Ignorance This meant people with little/no education Squalor This meant people living in poor quality housing Idleness This meant people being unemployed Modern government actions Job Seeker’s Allowance, State Pension, Crisis Loans, Fruit/Veg/Milk vouchers The NHS, healthy living initiatives, smoking ban, alcohol pricing, etc Free school education, training & education opportunities post-school Council housing, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit New Deal, Job Centre Plus, Tax Credits, Minimum wage Welfare benefits are split into two categories. Universal benefits are available to everyone, regardless of the money they have e.g. Child Benefit (currently at least), Winter Fuel Allowance. Means-tested benefits are only given to certain people, usually based on low incomes e.g. Council Tax Benefit, Housing Benefit. A ‘welfare state’ essay question could look at three of the Five Giants, evaluate modern government actions to tackle these and consider the limitations of these. 3
  4. 4. Benefits and government policies – examples and facts UK government benefits Job Seeker’s Allowance MEANS TESTED. Benefit paid to people out of work and looking for a job. Different rates based on age; 25+ get £71 per week; age 18-24 get £56.25. Tax Credits MEANS TESTED. Child Tax Credits are paid to low income families (working or not). Working Tax Credits paid to low income workers. Amount you get depends on income. Child Benefit UNIVERSAL. Benefit given to people with children; worth £20.30 for first child and £13.40 for other children. Currently universal but government changing to exclude people earning £60,000. Housing Benefit MEANS TESTED. Money to pay rent of people on low incomes (whether they are working or not). NOT for personal mortgages. Council Tax Benefit MEANS TESTED. Money to pay the Council Tax of people on low incomes (working or not) Winter Fuel Allowance UNIVERSAL. Payments to older people to pay heating bills during winter. Some disabled people get it too. Currently worth £200 for a single pensioner (below 80). State Pension UNIVERSAL. Weekly payment to men aged 65+ and women 60+; currently worth £107.45. Universal but must have paid into it to get full amount. Qualifying ages are increasing (ultimately going to 68 for men and women). Pension Credit MEANS TESTED. Benefit for low income pensioners to top up their income; single pensioners get £142.70 per week 4
  5. 5. Educational Maintenance Allowance MEANS TESTED. Money paid to low income pupils staying on at school post-16. Tackle inequality by helping them afford education rather than working to support family. UK government policies Minimum wage The least any worker can be paid. It has different rates based on age; workers aged 21+ get £6.08 per hour. New Deal Employment programme aimed at getting different groups into work e.g. young, long-term unemployed, etc. Offered training and subsidised job experience. Job Centre Plus Offices where people can look for work, get advice, meet with a personal advisor and claim benefits too. Sure Start Scheme aimed at helping families living in most disadvantaged areas. It offers a range of help including parenting classes, health education, training & employment opportunities and childcare. Scottish Government policies Free Bus Travel Free national bus travel for all people aged 60+ and some other groups too e.g. disabled Free prescriptions The Scottish Government scrapped charges for prescriptions (currently £7.65 per item in England) Public smoking ban In 2006 smoking in public places was banned in Scotland. Led to a 17% reduction in heart attacks Free central heating Some people on low incomes are eligible to get free central heating, or have their boiler replaced. 5
  6. 6. Why does inequality cause problems? Social exclusion is when a person cannot participate normally in society; these are Hutton’s Bottom 30 and Runcimann’s financially unempowered (see page 5). Most government policies aim to close the wealth gap (between richest and poorest). Wealth inequalities tend to be caused by parental, employment and educational background. They usually lead to health inequalities e.g. someone poor may live in bad housing (affected by damp) which affects their health, such as getting asthma. Inequality Poverty    Unemployment    Poor education   Poor health   Poor housing   Why it’s a problem Cannot afford basic needs e.g. poor diet, housing, transport, etc or luxuries More likely to face mental and physical health problems Very hard to break out of poverty Less money to spend on basic items Longer unemployed = harder to get back into work Evidence that children from unemployed families more likely to be unemployed too, and do worse in school Doing badly at school makes unemployment and poverty when older much more likely More likely that poor children will do badly at school (cycle of poverty) Makes it harder for people to work e.g. physically cannot work, stigma associated with mental health problems People may have greater financial needs but cannot afford them Causes health problems e.g. damp Makes good education harder e.g. nowhere to study, concentrate Government action Job Seeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefit, Sure Start, Tax Credits, Winter Fuel Allowance Job Seeker’s Allowance, Minimum Wage, New Deal, Job Centre Plus, Sure Start Educational Maintenance Allowance, Sure Start NHS, smoking ban, minimum price for alcohol, Winter Fuel Allowance Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit 6
  7. 7. What is the main cause of poor health? Bad health means two key problems: having a higher chance of an early death; and having a poorer quality of life because of illness. But what is the main cause? POVERTY Links to poor health Other factors and causes People living in poor communities face Not just about a person’s direct living multiple problems e.g. unemployment conditions e.g. Inverse Care Law; leads to mental/physical ill-health, poorest areas, where health needs poor housing causes health problems greatest, often have fewest doctors: e.g. asthma. Poorest communities Scottish average, 1 GP per 3000 usually have lowest life expectancy: people; Shettleston, 1 per 4200. Lack Scottish average (male), 73; poor of other services too e.g. if no car, Glasgow Shettleston, 64; and rich lack of public transport makes it hard Glasgow Eastwood, 76. to travel to medical appointments. LOW INCOME Links to poor health Other factors and causes Poor people less able to afford healthy Poorest communities most likely to living e.g. fruit, veg is expensive. Also smoke and have alcohol problems; gym membership, etc too much for perhaps spending money wrongly. some people to afford. Low income Possible link to lack of education too people more likely to stay in low e.g. middle class people more likely to income jobs and have less money for seek early medical advice, and listen retirement; unhealthy all their life. to government health campaigns. PERSONAL LIFESTYLE Links to poor health Other factors and causes Smoking rates higher in poorest areas; Middle class people unhealthy too. in fact only areas not to see a Two-income families have money to reduction after smoking ban e.g. 70% spend but often lead busy, stressful of Class AB smokers stopped, only 21% lives. Also problems as people drive of Class E. People on lowest incomes more, eat ready meals and drink a lot have highest consumption of junk food of alcohol. Whilst poor people most at and less likely to exercise (5 times less risk there is evidence of general than rich areas). Scottish lifestyle problems. 7
  8. 8. Health, Social and Economic inequalities This section looks at social, economic and health inequalities in more detail. It discusses action that the government has taken to tackle many of these problems, but also examines the extent of their success (and failure) to do so. In answering questions on this topic it is helpful to refer back to page 5 and theories of social class, in that government actions are designed to reduce these inequalities. LOW INCOME/POVERTY Progress/government action Problems Policies mentioned above, but smoker Poor Scots have a worse health record numbers not falling in poor areas. than rich ones. Men in poor areas twice Government pays for free school meals as likely to smoke. Physical and mental to help diet. Also worth remembering health issues linked to poverty e.g. that overall Scotland has poor health depression, problems caused by damp. record, middle classes too. Educational 4/5 children in deprived areas have Maintenance Allowance helps low rotten teeth. Links to low education and income youngsters stay on at school. Tax not being able to afford better diet. Poor credits gave poorer families more children do worse in education and more money, and encouraged them to work. likely to end up in crime. AGE (ELDERLY) Progress/government action Problems State Pension (£107.45 per week) Richer pensioners often benefit from ensures all elderly have money coming in private/company pensions which can (although 87% of men get full pension improve health e.g. not living in poor compared to 43% of women). Pension housing. Female pensioners less likely to Credit (£142.70 per week) gives more have private/company pension; also less money to poorest pensioners (but don’t likely to get full State Pension. Poor all claim it). Winter Fuel Payments have health can be linked to age, job during cut number of pensioners dying from working life and lifestyle. Cold weather cold; Cold Weather Payments help too. causes big health problems. Some elderly Government invested more in NHS suffer from NHS rationing, when scarce Geriatric Care and dementia medication. resources are allocated to other groups. 8
  9. 9. UNEMPLOYMENT Progress/government action Problems Pre-2010 government policies such as Unemployment at record levels; 2.69 New Deal and Minimum Wage had million people out of work. 1/4 young massively reduced unemployment people (18-21) unemployed. Huge (especially youth); UK employment rate problems caused by the Credit Crunch. rose by 2.5% and N.D. got 750,000 into Cuts in public spending means less public work. Tax credits also helped people out sector jobs, often the main employer in of the ‘benefits trap’ by giving them poor areas. Many people cannot work extra money to work and childcare too. because of a lack of childcare. INDIVIDUAL LIFESTYLE CHOICES Progress/government action Problems Various healthy living campaigns e.g. Scotland has a terrible health record. It Hungry for Success. Some progress; has some of the worst rates of obesity in smoking ban cut overall number of the world (27% of adults) and problems smokers; also saw fall in premature with heart disease and cancer. Part of babies and a 17% fall in heart-related the reason for this is Scotland’s diet, hospital admissions. Government plans alcohol intake and smoking levels. Big for minimum price for alcohol may help drug problems too; 43% of methadone too. Poor people still have worst health. users living Greater Glasgow. Race, gender and inequalities This section looks at the role gender and race play in creating inequalities. It also discusses government action to tackle these problems, and the success of this. RACE Many ethnic minority (EM) people experience racism. This is often direct racism, when someone deliberately does something to them because of their race e.g. assault, name calling. It can also be indirect racism; this is when people do something which hurts someone from an ethnic minority without realising. Ethnic minorities also face other problems in terms of health, education, etc. 9
  10. 10. EMPLOYMENT Progress/government action Problems Race Relations Act 2000 forces public Ethnic minorities find it hard to get hired sector employers to ensure racial (the ‘glass door’) or get a promotion (the equality in recruitment. 2010 Equality ‘glass ceiling’). Many face direct and Act lets any employee complain if they indirect discrimination at work e.g. pub hear a racist remark at work; employers working lunches exclude Muslims. are legally obliged to take action. Also allows employers to discriminate in Hugh unemployment for EMs; white, favour of EMs when hiring. No evidence 11%; black, 13%; Bangladeshi, 17%. Few yet of more EMs being hired. Relevant senior executives at UK firms are EM. disciplinary action against employees up 72% of EM police say they have faced 73% between Oct 2010 and April 2011. racism at work. INCOME, POVERTY AND HEALTH Progress/government action Problems No specific EM policies but government EMs more likely than white people to live action on employment (above) could in poverty (white, 18%; black, 45%). EMs help tackle low pay and poverty in the also face lower average wages (white, long term. General government action to £8/hour; Pakistani, £6.25/hour). EMs improve health e.g. smoking ban, most likely to experience poor health Healthy Living adverts may help in the e.g. Pakistanis 50% more health long run too. complaints than whites. RACISM Progress/government action Problems Court and Disorder Act 1998 allows Many EMs face huge racism problems, courts to impose tougher sentences on including assault, name calling and other attackers (but ignored by racist thugs). discrimination. Between 2004 and 2005 One Scotland advert campaign aimed to racial assaults rose by 13%. Problems in educate Scots about varied nature of recent times in Scotland with religious population but in 2009 82% of Scots discrimination e.g. anti-Muslim after couldn’t remember the campaign. Glasgow Airport terrorist attacks, etc. 10
  11. 11. GENDER Women face many types of discrimination too. As with racism some of this is direct and other aspects indirect. Although women make up just over half the UK population they are less likely to get promoted and more likely to earn a low wage. Most gender legislation is aimed at helping women in the workplace. GETTING A GOOD JOB Progress/government action Problems Equality Act 2010 legally guarantees that On average women earn 15% less than a woman doing the same job as a man men; 64% of low paid workers are should get equal pay; pay gap has slightly women. Women more likely to be in lownarrowed in recent years. The law also income, part-time jobs (often because of lets employers favour women when family responsibilities). Some employers hiring. Tax credits include childcare may be reluctant to hire a woman e.g. if support, helping women get a job. they have a baby or might get pregnant. GETTING PROMOTED Progress/government action Problems 2010 Equality Act makes it illegal to Women face a ‘glass ceiling’ where they discriminate because of gender. Change can’t get promoted past a certain level; already happening; in Edinburgh Council only 11% of UK company directors are 56% of top earners are women, figure women. 2011 survey found 73% of used to be 20%. More women going into female managers say they face problems professions e.g. law and also doing getting promoted. This is for the same better in education. Long-term this reasons they find it hard to get hired and should lead to more promoted women. is part of the reason women earn less. KEEPING A JOB Progress/government action Problems Illegal to discriminate because of Even when women get work they cannot pregnancy; Equal Opportunities always keep it. Sometimes this is Commission has taken companies doing because they find it too difficult to meet so to court. Work and Families Act 2006 all personal duties e.g. childcare costs. It extended time maternity pay can be paid can also be because they are fired e.g. and guaranteed that job would be held 30,000 women per year lose their jobs for woman’s return. because they get pregnant. 11
  12. 12. Collectivism versus Individualism (Public versus Private) Collectivism versus individualism is the debate about whether the government should help people or whether individuals should take personal responsibility. Collectivists believe that society is better off if everyone (including the government) works together and helps each other; individualists believe people should be responsible for themselves. Traditionally Labour is Collectivist whilst the Conservatives favour Individualism, although some people say this has changed. ORIGINAL AIMS OF THE WELFARE STATE Collectivist opinion Individualist opinion Welfare State’s original aims were to be Original Welfare State was designed as a universal (from the ‘cradle to the grave’); safety net, not for a life on benefits; it this means the government should help has created a ‘dependency culture’. The everyone. Also the fact that all people Welfare State’s founders had no idea it pay taxes entitles them to government. would grow so big or cost so much. EXAMPLES OF GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION Collectivist opinion Individualist opinion Government action helps improve lives It’s up to individuals how they live their e.g. Scottish smoking ban has resulted in life, not the government. In any case 17% less people going to hospital for some government policies e.g. minimum heart attacks. Minimum alcohol prices alcohol price only affects poor people; could help too. The 1997-2010 Labour middle class drinkers will be unaffected. government also saw a huge reduction in Poverty reduction 1997-2010 was down poverty thanks to policies such as Tax to strong economy creating jobs, not the Credits, Sure Start and the New Deal. government creating benefits. EXAMPLES OF INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY Collectivist opinion Individualist opinion If individual approach doesn’t work The government gives people a home, society has to pay e.g. crime, prisons. education, healthcare; if people want Extreme social exclusion causes major more they should work for it. Benefits problems e.g. 2011 English riots. More create ‘poverty trap’. Patronising to tell equal societies have better health, poor people they can’t help themselves economies, health records, etc. e.g. what about Duncan Bannatyne? 12
  13. 13. Health and Wealth in the UK Past Paper questions 2012 “The UK’s Welfare State continues to meet its aims.” Discuss. Critically examine the view that Government has failed to reduce gender or race inequalities in the UK. 2011 “Poverty is the most important factor that affects health.” Discuss. “Health and welfare provision should be the responsibility of government.” Discuss. 2010 Individual lifestyle choices limit good health more than any other factor. Discuss. To what extent have government policies reduced gender and/or ethnic inequalities? 2009 Assess the impact of income on health. Critically examine the success of recent government policies to reduce poverty. 2008 Assess the effectiveness of government policies to reduce gender and ethnic inequalities. Critically examine the view that government, not individuals, should be responsible for health care and welfare provision. 2007 To what extent are the founding principles of the Welfare State being met? To what extent do social and economic inequalities continue to exist in the UK? 13

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