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The welfare we want?The British challenge for American reform$
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Robert Walker and Michael Wiseman

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9781861344083

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781861344083.001.0001

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The British perspective on reform: transfers from, and a lesson for, the US

The British perspective on reform: transfers from, and a lesson for, the US

(p.65) Three The British perspective on reform: transfers from, and a lesson for, the US
The welfare we want?

Alan Deacon

Policy Press

This chapter reviews the similarities and differences of the welfare reform in Britain and the USA. One significant difference between the objectives of welfare reform in Britain and the USA is the commitment that New Labour has made to the immediate reduction and eventual elimination of child poverty. In the USA, the most widely cited claim for the third way has been Clinton's assertion that it has ended the sterile debate between the advocates of big and small government. In Britain, Prime Minister Tony Blair has argued that the defining feature of third way politics is that it reconciles ‘themes which in the past have wrongly been regarded as antagonistic-patriotism and internationalism, rights and responsibilities, the promotion of enterprise and the attack on poverty’. The most obvious point of similarity between the approach of New Labour and the New Democrats was that both presented welfare reform as a central element in the development of a new third way for centre-left politics. In both Britain and America, welfare reform took the form that it did because it represented, at least in part, a response to the impact of conservative ideas about welfare dependency. This chapter argues that policy makers in Britain and the US operate in very different cultural, political, and institutional contexts, but that they are seeking to achieve similar objectives, and draw upon a similar range of policy instruments to do so.

Keywords:   welfare, USA, Britain, New Labour, reform, politics, poverty

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