Welfare State - Assignment Example

Welfare in Britain is a framework largely controlled and provided by the state, it support those that cannot help themselves adequately. Also, we can define welfare state as government-protected minimum standards of income, health, housing and education assured as a political right, not as charity. The recession had made the government in the capitalist countries to have second-look of this perception

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In 1598 and continuing till 1900s British social policy was dominated by the Poor Law. The Victorian time which is the worst period of English poverty. The poor law in 1601 provided a compulsory poor rate, and setting the poor on work. The parish was the basic unit of administration to take care of the poor as a voluntary grouping. The changes of the industrial revolution led to the development of the towns, and cities. The commissioning of poor law in 1834 is to emphasis that the position of the poor must be less and workhouse will be the only relief – no relief outside the workhouse. The able people are drive out to work, no state intervention, which was seen as interfering with market force according to liberal theory. Only the old and sick people were able to claim ‘outdoor relief’

There were great pressures for the Social Reform to take care of their citizen’s welfare. They concern about trade unions empowering the working class to stand for their right, this might cause social disorder or revolution. Concern about declining national efficiency. Because people are not educated, they saw that German industries are successful than British as a result of better education. The Boer War (1899-1902) showed the extent of ill health among the young people, who were not capable to be selected for military service. The extent of poverty. An important social surveys which Charles Booth and Seebohm Rowntree reported on the London poor showed that around 1/3 of population were living in poverty. (Hand out).

As a result of these pressures Liberal government of 1906 introduced some important measures which can be classified as the beginning of modern welfare state such as: First School meals (1906), School medical inspections (1907), Old age pensions for over 70 (1908), and National Insurance Scheme (1911) to provide health insurance for the workers but not for their family and unemployment benefit when they lose their job.

Liberal reforms did not create welfare state they only move away from the poor law of Victorian time. The few welfare provisions set up before the First World War 1914-1918 were tested. People have made great sacrifices, their live had been disrupted. The economic depression reached its high peak in 1920s and 1930s. There was long time unemployment and National Insurance Scheme was paying more unemployment benefits to people than it received in contribution. The government of that time, it’s a Liberal dominated whom does not believe in state intervention, that problem should have been sorted out; there should be no involvement in political parties at that time.

It was the Second World War in which more people perished than in the First World War. This led to the formation of the coalition of all parties formed under Prime Minister Churchill, were working harmoniously to establish full welfare state. Under his supervision the government adopted a policy of regulation for the economy, in order to ensure an efficient postwar effort and health for both military and civilians. Richard Titmuss (1963) argues that the changes brought about by total war helped to create the conditions for the establishment of a welfare state

Based around the theory of economist J M. Keynes. Sir William Beveridge introduced a report in 1942 in which he identified “The aim of the welfare state to eradicate the five giants – Wants, Disease, Ignorance, squalor, and Idleness” (Handout) cradle to grave plan.

Labour government was elected to power in 1945-51. It was in 1946 that the welfare state was established as a spin off of the Beveridge report. In effect, Sir William Beveridge sought to tackle the old age problems of disease through establishment of NHS – Disease, to ensure that education was free for all citizens – Ignorance. To provide decent home – Squalor, and Idleness – full time employment and Want – the 1948 national assistance act to provide further assistance for those who still remained “poor despite benefits”.

Labour government introduced some legislative measure, 1944 Education Act already in statute book before labour party came to power, 1945 Family Allowance, 1946 National Insurance Act & National Health Service (NHS), 1947 Town and Country Planning Act, 1948 National Assistance Act & Children Act, 1949 Housing Act.

The Conservative government continued Labour’s welfare policies from the year 1951 which lasted until 1964. As a result, economy flourished people taught that poverty had been abolished. However, during the 1960s and 1970s both Labour and Conservative worked towards more selective benefits in other to reduce welfare fund spent. Their commitment to public provision through welfare state gear towards the same ideal, differ in some aspect for example Labour emphasis on council houses but conservative emphasis on private home ownership. By 1979 Margaret Thatcher was elected under conservative government with “commitment to anti-collectivist free market principle (Hand out).

A serious challenge to the social democratic. Thatcher’s residualist approach aimed to limit welfare programmes to the poorest and most vulnerable, to provide a safety net for those with means to support themselves. “Her government’s economic strategy has decreed a substantial reduction in local government spending on education and housing in order to “free” resources for private industry” (Handout, Welfare State). Overall government expenditure on welfare provision has continued to increase throughout this century. Forrest & Murie (1989) argued that due to reduction of benefits, it make the government spend more on means tested benefit.

There are changes in welfare state which is ‘cost cutting’ measures and people think it is a crisis in social security. Whereby universal benefit became selective e.g. payment for eyesight test, cuts in unemployment benefit and jobseeker allowance. Some payment given as a grant under social funds change to loan which people have to repay back through their benefits. There are cuts in some benefits while some have no increase for years and some were kept inline with inflation e.g. income support.

Many areas of welfare have been privatised e.g. cleaning in the hospitals. Thatcher influenced privatization of provision for health care which meant that those with sufficient income, regardless or whether they fell under certain category i.e. pensioner. “Should use their own private provision for their health care and education” (Sociology Handout). Government introduced ‘market forces’ that is managers are advised to control their spending and also able to compete with other services providers in an efficient and flexible way. Many hospitals close down to replace with care in the community. In order to decrease state responsibility Conservative government introduced pluralism in 1979 to invite other welfare sectors and lack of government action.

Thatcher’s view was that although former institutionalist, social democrats, had tried to provide help for those unable to carry out work, it had failed in its purpose because the system had became a wasteful bureaucratic structure that actually encourage people not to work. Towards the end of our twentieth century the “third phase” political under Prime Minister Blair combines both social and political influence, which seek to create a balance.

There are changes in Welfare State in relation to housing. Local authority housing grew after World War 1, 2 million houses were built before 1939, over 4 million more after the war. Initially, council housing was intended for the “working classes”. The main justification for its development after 1919 was the provision of housing for general needs, but after 1930, it became focused on people displaced after slum clearance. The stigma of council housing probably dates from this period: council estates were built in locations where they would not adversely affect the values of owner-occupied property.

After World War II, references to the ‘working classes’ were removed. Because council built masses buildings, high-rise building with subsidies, quantity was more important than quality. This was the period of socialized mode according to Peter Saunders argument in (1989). In 1970 Housing policy changed when political support for council housing was withdrawn by the Conservatives. Some subsidies have been withdrawn and replaced with Housing Benefit. Council selling houses to tenants (Right to Buy). Transfer of buildings to housing association. Housing Association had been empowered to take over the development opportunities and the role of council had been diminished.

Private rented housing declined after 1919, it was cheaper to buy than to rent also the poor standards and abuse by landlords. Rent Act was introduced in 1960 to protect the tenants from abuse. The law was to slow down the decline and preventing the landlords from selling their house. Peter Saunders (1989) argues that private mode is a means of controlling the government expenditure and way to cut the cost of welfare provision, and state is able to reduce collective provision.

In conclusion, the main social and political influences in the development of welfare state over the years had been identified. The instutionalist approach born by Keynes and Beveridge worked successfully towards providing the welfare state as a real ‘safety net’ for those in need. However, Keynes economic principle were embraced by major government for a lengthy time it was later changed when Thatcher came to lead the conservative party in 1979 with residualist approach which seemed to make away from social democracy. Finally, identify changes in welfare state in relation to housing provision in three modes: market, socialized, private.