Front Matter

The book offers a data-rich, evidence-based analysis of the impact Labour and Coalition government policies have had on inequality and on the delivery of services such as health, education, adult social care, housing and employment, in the wake of the greatest recession of our time. The authors provide an authoritative analysis of recent approaches to social policy and their outcomes following the financial crisis, with particular focus on poverty and inequality. Through a detailed look at spending, outputs and outcomes the book offers a unique appraisal of Labour and the Coalition’s impact as well as an insightful assessment of future directions. There are twelve detailed chapters dealing with different aspects of policy, spending, and outcomes in key service areas, as well as introductory and concluding chapters. Overall the book sets out that there were some strong contrasts between the policies Labour continued to pursue until it lost office in May 2010, and those of its successors, but also sharp differences between social policy areas under the Coalition. Austerity was selective – indeed the pressure on ‘unprotected’ areas was increased by the cost of increased income tax allowances and favourable treatment of pensions. Early years provision, social care for the elderly, and particular working-age benefits were sharply affected. Some areas were comparatively insulated, but still affected by major reform, while in others the role of the state was redrawn or even substantially withdrawn. Much of this conscious reshaping of Britain’s welfare state is set to continue or intensify under the new Conservative government. By leading policy experts from the LSE, and Universities of Manchester and York, this volume offers a much-awaited follow up to the critically acclaimed ‘A more equal society?’ (2005) and ‘Towards a more equal society?’ (2009).

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