The UK—A Test Case for the Liberal Welfare State?

Peter Taylor-Gooby and Trine P. Larsen

in New Risks, New Welfare

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780199267262
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602023 | DOI:
The UK—A Test Case for the Liberal Welfare State?

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The UK developed an innovative agenda of new social risk policies through the 1980s and 1990s. The Conservative government up to 1997 essentially pursued liberal market reforms with minimal provision for vulnerable minorities. After 1997, new labour developed a programme of work‐life balance and New Deal labour market reforms that represented a change of direction in the UK context. These policies relied heavily on market provision and on market incentives, with a state safety net for those on low incomes, but were more generous than the previous provision and were carefully and consciously structured to enhance work incentives for women with domestic responsibilities and others. They were influential in welfare state debate across Europe and at EU level. Reliance on a private sector, which government cannot directly control, created problems, most notably in childcare, elder care, and pensions. The UK is able to change policy rapidly due to its highly centralised ‘Westminster’ governmental system. Its reform experience has important lessons for other European countries.

Keywords: active labour market; Blair; child care; minimum wage; New Deal; new labour; pensions; reform; retrenchment; social policy; social risks; tax credit; UK; anemployment; welfare state; work

Chapter.  11356 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Political Economy

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