In order to fulfil the criteria I have reviewed the ideologies of the main political parties and their contribution to the development of the welfare stare. In essence the term ‘welfare state’ means well being. This was first introduced by William Temple the Archbishop of Canterbury in a book, Citizen and Churchmen in 1941. This term was adopted and appointed by the labour government on the 5th of July 1948.
The first established law that was introduced under the assumption that unemployed and the low wage population needed extra help, was the Elizabethan Poor Law in 1601. We saw the introduction of work houses and almshouses (early hospitals) and outdoor relief for the sick and disabled (Nightwatchmen, Driver & Martell, 1998). Then in 1795 we saw the first wage top up’s introduced by magistrates in Speenhamland for poor workers. It was reformed by Williams Pitts Tory government. This has been further developed by the labour government as the working tax credits system. In 1834 the Tory government amended the poor law and took a much harder line towards help for the poor in line with their ideology that people should fend for themselves and state intervention should be at a last resort (Walsh et al 2000, pp 30-42).
In 1842 Edwin Chadwick submitted a report on the sanitary conditions of the labouring population in Britain and was some what reviewed by Beveridge at a later date. The report was submitted to the Tory Government and led to the Public Health Act being introduced in 1948 by Earl Russell’s Liberal government.
Liberalism/Liberals or new liberals also see themselves as playing an important role in the welfare of the nation and are great supporters of the NHS. They are of the opinion that benefits should be as a last resort but the needs of the poor should be addressed. New liberals were the pioneers the establishment of the welfare state and have taken an important role it’s development. Their intervention lead to many reforms on minimum wage, the National Insurance Act in 1911, child labour ,minimum wage, Act, School medical inspections for poor children in 1907, provisions for schools meals for poor children in 1906 and the Old Age Pensioners Act in 1908.
The National Insurance Act was designed as the first unemployment benefit and health care insurance. The 1935 Social Security Act was created to aid dependant children and families in poverty (Walsh et al 2000, pp 42-43). They believe that the welfare state is one that existed alongside a regulated capitalist system and one that seeks to enhance positive liability and equality of opportunity. (Hobhouse, 1911, pp 158-174).The liberals laid the foundations and frame work for the Beverage report before he wrote it.
The Conservatives have had some impact on the development of the welfare state, however their right wing ideology relies on people being independent, making their own private provisions for welfare or well being. They claim that the wealth of the nation has been accumulated by the hard work of previous generations through their own prudent guardianship. They think that the state should have a low involvement on welfare matters and focus on driving the economy, business, and capitalism. This can be viewed in the Macmillan statement in the 1930’s where he claimed that increases in benefits should be in the form of essential food stuff, indicating that benefits should be a last resort. Winston Churchill on the other hand invented and laid the foundations for a National Health Service in 1943. Later implemented and structured by Aneurin Bevan the Labour Health Minister.
He might have been influenced by his previous liberal background and recognised state intervention in social welfare. The underpinning ideology of the Tory/Conservative Government can be viewed in 1975 by the leadership of Margaret Thatcher and Thatcherism. She had strong Victorian values on work ethic and was driven towards the ‘free market’ concept and privatisation. Her strategy was to limit the spending of welfare state that seemed ever expanding. She said that welfare created dependency and it drained the country. The Education (student loans) Act was introduced to bring free education to and end, the NHS Act amendment and the NHS & Community Care Act 1990 led to the breaking up of welfare agencies and institutions reducing the cost of care and driving free market, private, ideologies. The Children Act 1989 and the Education Reform Act 1988 was to minimise government intervention, increase the scope of the private sector, reduce the power of health professionals and minimise cost (Walsh et al 2000, pp 53-54).
Labour is more central in their ideologies and adopts a Socialist way of thinking. Labour sees themselves as having and important role in alleviating poverty, poor housing and taking care of the sick. (Bevan, 1952, p. 85) Although the conservative government requested the Beveridge report in 1942 to rebuild Britain after the war it was Labour that developed the ideas from the report to address the five giant evils (Jones 1994, p 143). It was labour who took the task in setting up the welfare state. The national Health Act was introduced to tackle disease in 1946 and the NHS began in 1948. The Family Allowances Act was introduced in 1945 and the National Assistance Act in 1948 to tackle poverty or want. Labour nationalised public utilities such as gas, electricity, water industries and transport to influence employment levels and tackle Idleness (Benn1980, pp.39-42).
They introduced the Education Act in 1944 to provide compulsory education for all children and cover Ignorance. They went as far as extending the school leaving age to 41 in 1945. To address squalor they introduced the Town and Country Planning Act in 1947, The New Towns Act 1946, The Housing Rents and Repairs Act 1954 and the Housing Act 1947. Aneurin Bevan a renowned socialist, helped to establish the NHS and took responsibility for medical services giving free diagnosis and treatment.
The government kept economy vibrant by increasing public spending. After Thatcherism the country saw Blairism and the Approach to a new Labour. Blair argued that New Labour would set boundaries between left and right approaches. He continued to recognise private, voluntary and state sectors as part of a pluralist welfare system that promotes freedom of choice and value for money. Providing better options and care for those who could afford it. He developed new ideas about how the welfare state should be delivered that originated in the Thatcher era (Walsh et al 2000, pp 54-55). They acted as purchasers and tried to regulate services and moved away from their original socialist principles.
It is clear to see that parties change the ideologies and perspectives in line with what they feel people want and what is likely to create votes e.g. Blairism, demonstrates that there can be a fine line between ideologies. Socialism and Liberalism ideologists have had the biggest impact on the development on the welfare state and health and social care in general. Socialist or working class attempts to provide de-commodified welfare and avoid a greater class conflict are becoming a reverse reality (Espring Anderson,1990). State pensions are being abolished, private sectors have the monopoly in the pension market and the so called choice is diminished NHS dental practitioners are now few and prime health care comes at a high cost.
Governments only act when need to; for example during the industrial revolution and urbanisation lead to major social problems the government only became involved in welfare to meet these needs. Feminist pressure group intervention has lead to the implementation of legislation such as the Equal Pay Act 1976, Equality Act 2006, Sex Discrimination Act 1975, Equal Value Act 1975 and Statutory Maternity Pay Regulations 1994. Anti Racist pressure groups have assisted in the implementation of the Race Relations Act 1997 and the Equal Opportunities Act. External pressure groups with substantial backing can influence political ideologies and social policy.
Reconstructing the Welfare Sate
The Evolution of the British Welfare State
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Social Policy and Welfare
Stanley Thornes (publishers) Ltd
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Social Care Level 4
The Journal of Community Care Law
Arden Davies Publishing
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