Chapter

Social security and welfare reform

Stephen McKay and Karen Rowlingson

in Modernising the welfare state

Published by Policy Press

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9781847420404
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447302834 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781847420404.003.0004
Social security and welfare reform

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This chapter reviews New Labour's social security and welfare reform policies. Blair achieved a ‘paradigm shift’ by putting ‘poverty’ back on the policy agenda. His pledge to eradicate child poverty was a major turning point in welfare reform, although the failure to achieve even the interim targets in poverty reduction may come back to haunt his successor(s). The emphasis on poverty was a radical departure from the previous governments, but the focus on children and pensioners draws on traditional views about the ‘deserving poor’. Other highly significant changes include the National Minimum Wage, asset-based welfare approaches, and, perhaps, changes in state retirement pensions. Other changes, although significant, have tended to follow on from older approaches of activation (welfare-to-work) and the introduction of tax credits. Delivery mechanisms have also changed, but, again, this was likely to have happened under a Conservative government due to technological change and the accompanying opportunity to realise cost savings through cutting face-to-face interactions.

Keywords: social security policy; welfare policy; New Labour; child poverty; poverty reduction; minimum wage; asset-based welfare; retirement pensions

Chapter.  6486 words.  Illustrated.

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