Perspectives on Welfare: Ideas, Ideologies, and Policy Debates

By Alan Deacon | Go to book overview

chapter
seven
A new deal for welfare?
New Labour and the reform
of welfare in Britain
There are few commentators who would dispute that the election of the New Labour government in May 1997 constituted a significant turning point in British politics. Indeed, there has since been a plethora of academic and journalistic writings on almost every aspect of New Labour. The purpose of this chapter is to discuss New Labour's approach to welfare reform, and in particular to show how that approach draws upon the perspectives outlined in earlier chapters. This, of course, was also the purpose of the previous chapter on policy debates in the USA. Nevertheless, it will be found that the present chapter has a different structure from Chapter 6. This is because the policy debate in Britain is broader and more wide-ranging than it is in the USA. It was explained in the Introduction that the term welfare does not have the same specific meaning in Britain that it does in the USA. Moreover, there has not been in Britain a single measure of welfare reform equivalent to the passage of the 1996 Act in the USA. The closest to the 1996 Act in Britain was the launch of the New Deals, and especially that for young people. The development of the New Deals, however, has been an incremental process, and they are only one of a number of measures that have been introduced over a period of years. It follows that there has not been the same tightly focused debate as there has been in the USA; nor is there the same clear break between 'before' and 'after' welfare reform. All of this means that it is more helpful for the present chapter to examine in turn the four central themes of New Labour's approach to welfare reform:
the need to strike a new balance between the rights and the obligations of claimants;
the need to widen access to paid employment and to make such work 'pay';
the need to rebuild popular support for welfare;

-102-

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Perspectives on Welfare: Ideas, Ideologies, and Policy Debates
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Introducing Social Policy ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Series Editor's Foreword x
  • Acknowledgements xii
  • List of Abbreviations xiv
  • Introduction 1
  • Part 1 - The Perspectives 11
  • Chapter One - Welfare and Equality 13
  • Chapter Two - Welfare and Self-Interest 31
  • Chapter Three - Welfare and Paternalism 49
  • Chapter Four - Welfare and Obligation 63
  • Chapter Five - Welfare as Temporary Support 78
  • Part 2 - Policy Debates 89
  • Chapter Six - Ending Dependency? Welfare Reform in the United States 91
  • Chapter Seven - A New Deal for Welfare? New Labour and the Reform of Welfare in Britain 102
  • Conclusion 119
  • Glossary 135
  • Bibliography 140
  • Index 150
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