Chapter

A tide turned but mountains yet to climb?

John Hills and Kitty Stewart

in A more equal society?

Published by Policy Press

Published in print January 2005 | ISBN: 9781861345783
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447301394 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781861345783.003.0015
A tide turned but mountains yet to climb?

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This chapter summarises the key points derived from the previous chapters. Some of the common points stand out from this analysis. First, the government since 1997 has undeniably taken tackling poverty and social exclusion very seriously, in a way not done before. In most of the areas discussed, there is proof of the recognition of the range of problems faced by Britain in the mid-1990s. Second, the issues have been acknowledged as multifaceted and interlinked. Although policy debates have focused on cash incomes and services today, they have also recognised the drivers of disadvantage and of life chances for children. Third, New Labour has become more prolific in its use of its targets. Poverty and social exclusion have become top priorities of the government. However in some cases there have been omissions, such as working-age poverty and overall inequality. Fourth, in the individual policy areas, there is a variation in the speed and scope of policy. Education, employment, child poverty, vulnerable groups, and neighbourhood regeneration were continuing priorities with substantial new resources. However, the scale of action in other areas and for other marginalised groups was less fast and less impressive. The inclusion agenda has, literally, had borders. Finally, there are recurring problems. In many areas, there is an unacknowledged conflict between government objectives of raising standards for all and of reducing differences between disadvantaged groups and others. There are a number of gaps and areas where people are still left behind and the default policy for most social security benefits and tax credits is linked to their values in prices and not to general standards of living. Overall, however, it can be said that the tide has turned, however, there is a long way to go to reach the unambiguous picture of success.

Keywords: poverty; social exclusion; policy; cash incomes; disadvantage; inequality; education; employment; child poverty; vulnerable groups

Chapter.  8494 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility

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