60 years of the welfare state

Issue 130 (Summer 2008)
The welfare state at 60

Paul Dornan considers the up and downs of social change since 1948, championing the need for a renewed sense of purpose in social policy research.

The moral case to end child poverty

The most recent argument for the abolition of child poverty has become one of logic and finance. It is too costly to have a proportion of the population in poverty – it is a waste of resources. So what happened to the idea that poverty is simply wrong and immoral in a modern civilised society? The Rt Rev Tom Butler, Bishop of Southwark, reminds us of the true motivation at the heart of the fight against poverty and what local and religious communities must do to contribute.

Lack of education, lack of opportunity

Louise Bamfield, The Fabian Society

What about disability?

Paul Treloar, Disability Alliance

Health: ‘equity’ or ‘choice’?

Bob Williams and Duncan Randall

Where does poverty live?

Adam Sampson, Shelter

Draw a picture of poverty, and there’s a good chance it will feature a bleak tower block or a crumbling flat. More and more, housing is being included as an indicator of poverty; yet housing situations are not simply effects of poverty. An individual or family’s housing – its security, its location, its cost – all contribute hugely to the cause of their poverty, the difficulties they face and their children’s’ life chances.

Mother, carer, worker

When Beveridge set up the welfare state in 1944, he assumed that couples were married, that men would be the breadwinners, and that care was the responsibility of women within the family. The situation now could hardly be more different. Mothers are now expected to be in the labour market – irrespective of their marital status and whether or not they have young children, grandchildren or a frail elderly parent. Hilary Land considers the changing expectations of women and mothers – as carers and as workers – and identifies a current failure to recognise that family care is a service which is as vital to society as high employment levels.

Whose birthday are we celebrating?

The national insurance system of 1948 was a breakthrough achievement for a post-war Britain on its way towards an egalitarian society where everyone had rights as well as responsibilities. John Veit-Wilson stops to consider what 60 years of the welfare state really means – that it has been a long journey, but we still have far to go.

A right to rights

‘Rights and responsibilities’ lie at the heart of the Government’s child poverty strategy, and the concept is driving New Labour’s welfare reform programme. But has a system evolved where those who have fewest rights have the greatest responsibilities? 2008 sees two big reforms, for lone parents and those incapable of work, which provide an opportunity to consider the question. Edward Graham and Gabrielle Preston look at the new changes and the repercussions for the future.