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In This essay I will look at what is new about New Labour in regard to social policy. To begin a description of social policy is provided together with a brief history of the welfare state in Britain.

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Introduction

INTRODUCTION In This essay I will look at what is new about New Labour in regard to social policy. To begin a description of social policy is provided together with a brief history of the welfare state in Britain. A strong debate exists in social policy as to whether provision is about social care or control. This debate will be explored. The three prevailing political ideologies Social Reformism, Market Liberalism and the Third Way will be discussed in regard to social provision and their policies will be compared. Finally I will identify aspects of New Labour policies that establish it as a new way of thinking in regard to social welfare policy According to Marsh (1979) social policy can be described as action on the part of the state or voluntary organisations to deal with the myriad variety of individual and social problems in a complex industrialized society. Marsh (1979) argues the state has, over the centuries, attempted to provide help to the poor, and to overcome many other forms of 'social evils' such as improving living and employment conditions, education and healthcare etc through legislation and voluntary action. ...read more.

Middle

state welfare was pitched at an absolute minimum level to avoid giving out false signals that discourage individuals from making their livelihood through gainful employment. "For this reason needs were defined in subsistence rather than basic terms, and welfare provisions are kept at a level that is residual to the market place" (Hewitt:1998:64). Walker (1987) contends that the Thatcher government pursued a strategy of inequality. A strategy based on the premise of a trickle down effect where the rich are provided with incentives such as lower taxation. This would develop into entrepreneurial activity and boost growth and create jobs. Welfare benefits would be reduced making it less attractive, which would create incentives for the poor to work. This would ultimately boost economic growth. Unfortunately such strategies had the opposite effect and led to massive inequalities, an increase in the amount of families living in poverty, and an increase from 8% to 25% in the number of people living on low incomes. Britain under conservative rule became a country where the rich got richer and the poor poorer. In 1997, after 18 years of conservative rule, New Labour with Tony Blair at the helm took over. ...read more.

Conclusion

Labour has tried to incorporate positive features from both the Conservatives and old Labour and tried to expand on them to turn them into policies which are more progressive, manageable and cost effective. This is a very new way of thinking as it does not lean towards a left or right wing perspective but chooses a centre approach, an approach which is more eclectic and open to what works. It tries to involve all the major stakeholders in the society from business, government, communities and individuals and regards the states welfare role as a facilitator. Thus the responsibility for provision does not just lie in the hands of the state but is the responsibility of the society as a whole. This being a complete break with past policies where under old Labour the state was the key provider of services and under conservative rule where provision of needs provided by the market. In conclusion it can be said that New Labour has provided a new and progressive approach to social policy and reforming the welfare state in Britain. The most striking feature that separates New Labour from its predecessors is its willingness to work in partnership and the realisation that they cannot act effectively in isolation. ...read more.

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