In Defence of Welfare began in 2010 as a response to this government’s first Major Spending Review. Put together by the Social Policy Association, it was an attempt to anticipate the impact of such cuts to welfare on British society.
This second edition, In Defence of Welfare 2, brings together nearly fifty short pieces from a diverse range of academics, policy makers and journalists to explore the impact of those reforms at a time when a general election is looming.
Contributors to this edited collection cannot help but note the increased inequalities in income, wealth and well-being which have seemingly become firmly entrenched in society over the Coalition Government’s term of office. In Defence of Welfare 2 considers the role of conditionality, and cuts in services and benefits on peoples’ lives. It focuses on extensive inequalities in social policy including the labour market, child care provision, access to health and social care, pensions, housing and education among others. Drawing on the experiences of children, women, immigrants and the unemployed, it explores how the Government has surprisingly little understanding of how inequalities are played out in society – or how effective policy is made, developed or implemented. It demonstrates how many social policies mark a relentless attack on those who are most ‘disadvantaged’, hitting those hardest without the resources to sustain an acceptable standard of living. Instead the role of the voluntary and faith sector have been important responses to the insufficiencies of welfare with the use of food-banks expanding rapidly. At the same time those most privileged in society continue to benefit from Coalition policies with the gap between those at the very top and the rest growing rapidly, whilst social mobility is at a standstill.
In addition, In Defence of Welfare 2 shows how stigma has become a key challenge for welfare recipients, particularly the poorest in society. The portrayal of the welfare state as ‘too generous’ resulting in welfare dependency is inaccurate. The language of ‘scroungers’, ‘cheats’ and ‘troubled families’ are all too prevalent in the media and beyond, and have a detrimental impact on people’s well-being. Such terminology is the result of an unfortunate dichotomy of workers vs non-workers and rich vs poor which permeates society. It is argued that a responsible civic language is required.
Importantly, In Defence of Welfare 2 considers how welfare can and should develop in order to promote a more equal society, one which provides for the needs of those with the lowest and most precarious incomes in the UK.
Editors: Liam Foster, Anne Brunton, Chris Deeming, Tina Haux
Twitter: @SocialPolicyUK #IDOWII #defendwelfare