Social Policy Review 14 continues the tradition of providing a different style and approach to policy issues from that found in most academic journals and books. Chapters have been purposely chosen to review a varied and interesting selection of social policy developments in Britain and internationally, and to set current policy developments in a broader context of key trends and debates.
Social Policy Review is an annual selection of commissioned articles focusing on developments and debates in social policy in the UK, Europe and internationally. The Review has become recognised as a topical, accessible, well-written and affordable publication and has a substantial readership among social policy teachers, students, researchers and policy makers.
Social Policy Review 13 continues the tradition of providing a different style and approach to policy issues from that found in most academic journals and books. Chapters have been purposely chosen to review a varied and interesting selection of social policy developments in Britain and internationally, and to set current policy developments in a broader context of key trends and debates.
As Social Policy Review 13 went to press, the 2001 General Election had just been called, with Labour promising improvements in public services, including increases in the numbers of doctors, nurses and teachers, as a major part of its proposal for a second term. The editors’ comments in this section at that time (Sykes et al, 2001) suggested that a re-elected New Labour government might need to be kept under pressure to deliver on all of its promises in the social policy field.
It is certainly the case that there has been pressure: excepting the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York on 11 September and its aftermath, the debate over the future of public services has arguably been the dominant feature of the UK policy arena over the past year. In June 2001, as Labour romped home to a second landslide, there were fewer victory celebrations than had been the case in 1997. The government’s approach was much about getting on with the tasks in hand, and prominent among these has been the condition and the future of public services, including the NHS, education and public transport. The NHS has remained in the headlines with a number of negative high profile cases being played out in the media. These included the occasion when Tony Blair and Iain Duncan-Smith became embroiled in a bitter row over a north London hospital’s alleged neglect of a 94-year-old woman and the continued debate over waiting lists. In many instances the level of resourcing was an underlying theme of these concerns.
Over the last year, and as we enter the ‘real’ new millennium in 2001, a number of changes have been made to Social Policy Review (SPR). First, the Social Policy Association (SPA), which has been publishing SPR for 12 years, has entered into a partnership with The Policy Press to publish and distribute the Review. We are very enthusiastic about this development at the SPA since The Policy Press has a fast-growing reputation among academics and policy practitioners for the quality of its publications, and is at the leading edge of publishing topical and more reflective new work on policy issues. To mark this development, the Review has a new look, which we hope will become familiar to our existing readers in universities and elsewhere, and also become a symbol to old and new readers alike of high quality, incisive, polemical and interesting reading on developments in social policy, year by year.
Second, the editors have introduced some new features to the content of the Review. The first of these is this introductory chapter, ‘The year in social policy’, which the editors will use to cast a critical eye over selected developments in social policy in the last year (2000). To put such a time frame on historical and conceptual developments is not really possible, of course, and nor will we be able to cover all the developments that our readers may themselves have selected. So, while the introductory chapter will reflect the three main sections of the rest of the Review (UK developments, international developments, and conceptual and historical dimensions), the content and discussion will also reflect the particular slant on the past year’s developments and issues taken by the editors.