Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 47 items for

  • Author or Editor: Pete Alcock x
Clear All Modify Search
Restricted access
Author:

The election of a new coalition government in the United Kingdom (UK) in May 2010 has led to a change of direction in third sector policy within England, referred to by the new government as ‘building the Big Society’. The immediate legacy for this new policy environment in the policies of the previous government and the politics of the election campaign is summarised. The key commitments of the Big Society agenda are outlined and the broader ideological context of this critically explored. Some of the implications for third sector policy and practice are identified and the paper closes by questioning whether the Big Society agenda may threaten third sector unity.

Restricted access
Author:

Academics, policy makers and practitioners often stress the need for definition to inform analysis and policy. This paper explores recent debate on the identification of a third sector of organisational activity in the UK. It reviews some leading academic models that have sought to locate this sector alongside others, and then examines attempts to identify the sector as a focus for policy and practice. The importance of policy discourses in shaping debate and constructing definition is explained and the potentially fractured nature of these discourses is explored. These are then contrasted with discourses from practice. A distinction is made between exogenous and endogenous approaches to definition, and the implications of each discussed. The paper identifies a strategic unity within discourse in the UK over the last decade and argues that this has been effective in constituting a unified third sector within policy and practice, albeit one with underlying diversity and potential longer-term instability.

Restricted access
Author:

Where we live matters to us. To a significant extent, it determines the social context and social relations within which we operate as social beings. It also matters for the delivery of welfare. When collective resources have to be collected and distributed, who should be included in this? And how far does our collective responsibility extend? How far collective responsibility extends is a matter of geography, and the geographical, or spatial, dimensions of welfare provision are critical to understanding how it is organised and, more importantly, to making the case for how and why it should be organised. However, the geographical dimensions of welfare are more complex than we might at first expect. They raise difficult questions about what is the appropriate spatial level for policy planning; as I discuss in this chapter, there are no simple answers to these questions.

We all live in nation states, governed by national governments, which, in democratic countries, we elect and can change, usually within fixed periods of time. Much of social policy is developed and implemented at national government level. When we talk about the welfare state, we are generally referring to the policies and practices of national governments; as mentioned in Chapter 1, the ‘creation’ of the British welfare state by the post-war Labour government in the 1940s was very much a process of national policy making.

However, policy making does not only take place at national level – nor does the delivery of public services, even when they are developed nationally.

Restricted access
Author:

At the heart of the issues that I want to address in this book is the dual nature of welfare as both an individual concern and a collective good. We need welfare to respond to what Wright Mills (2000) called private troubles and public issues, and it is the dual character of this challenge, and the ways in which we respond to it, that determines what we mean by welfare in practice. The purpose of this chapter is to explore some of the major questions underpinning the organisation and delivery of welfare services. What are we seeking to achieve? And why does this matter? I will examine these questions and the problems flowing from them that welfare provision needs to address; and the practical and political challenges that these pose for its development and delivery.

Individual needs and social problems are challenges to any society and require us to respond to them. But they are not necessarily the same, and they may require different forms of response. Needs, we experience as individuals, though not all individuals would agree on what we need. In this context we can make a simple distinction between needs and wants: we may want to have rhinoplasty to reshape our nose, but we need to have surgery to set our broken leg. More generally, of course, we may want all sorts of things, but welfare is about the collective response to the needs that we all, to some extent, share.

Restricted access
Author:

Collective provision of welfare is based on principles of investment and inclusion. We all contribute and we all benefit. As the creators of the post-war welfare state were keen to ensure, we should all in principle have equal access to benefits and services. To employ recent political jargon, we are ‘all in it together’. Implied in this is the assumption that we all have the same welfare needs and experience these needs in the same social circumstances. However, in practice, in modern societies like the UK our needs may not all be shared and the circumstances in which we experience them may not all be the same. We live in a society comprised of a range of social groups, who are divided by a series of social, economic and cultural factors. These divisions may mean that for some it does not feel at all as though we are all in things together; this applies to needs for and experiences of welfare too.

All societies are comprised of different social groups, and all experience division and sometimes conflict to some extent. These differences are extensive and multifaceted, driven by differences of gender, ethnicity, age, ability, sexuality, religion, politics, culture, geography and, of course, economic circumstances. In one sense, therefore, it may seem impossible to consider us all having any common collective experiences or interests. However, as I outlined in Chapter 2, people like Doyal and Gough (1991) and Sen (2009) have argued that there are universal human needs which we all share, whatever our social circumstances, and therefore that a relativist approach, which suggests that ultimately society is just a collection of different and disparate circumstances and experiences, fails to capture the collective nature of human social relations.

Restricted access
Author:

In this chapter I examine some of the main practical issues to be overcome in delivering welfare. However great our commitment to meeting welfare needs, we need to ensure that the services that we develop to meet these can be delivered effectively and are accessible to those who use them. While Chapter 2 was concerned mainly with what should be the goals of welfare policy, this chapter is mainly concerned with how those policies operate. As I will explain, this has become a more significant feature of policy making and policy practice in recent decades, as providers, managers and governments have recognised that what matters most in practice is whether citizens can access the services that are intended to benefit them.

At the centre of our concerns about the welfare of citizens are the distribution and redistribution of resources. We need resources to meet our welfare needs. Yet, as I explained in Chapter 2 in discussing equality and inequality, resources are often unevenly distributed in society, with some people without sufficient means to meet all of their needs – and some with much more than they really need. And, as I argued, this could, and should, be addressed by seeking to reduce these massive disparities in income and wealth at source, through controls on income differentials and wealth holdings. However, we can also intervene to redistribute resources within society, to move them from those who have more than they need to those who do not have enough. It is such redistribution that has in fact been at the heart of most welfare policy.

Restricted access
Author:

What we include within the provision of welfare depends to some extent on how far we extend our understanding of our individual needs and social problems. The scope of welfare also varies in official measures (what should we include in public spending on welfare?), in academic debates (what is covered in the study of social policy?) and in the popular perceptions captured in attitude surveys. The coverage in this chapter is therefore something of a compromise. Most measures of public expenditure on welfare, notably those used by the OECD for international comparison, include spending on health, education and social security (or welfare) benefits. These are also the categories included in surveys of public opinion on welfare, like the British Social Attitudes Surveys I discuss in Chapter 7. I will explore these key issues, and the main policy responses to them in the UK, in this chapter. This means that I do not discuss some other potential welfare issues, such as housing and homelessness, crime and disorder, or family policy and child protection, although these and other issues are covered in most of the more traditional social policy texts.

Significant levels of inequality is both a moral and practical problem for societies; this is particularly true of the extreme elements of this inequality. Extreme levels of wealth are a problem at the top, as Sayer (2014) has argued. So, too, is poverty at the bottom. In practice, it has been poverty that has more generally been the focus of debate about the need for welfare and the role of social policy in responding to this.

Restricted access