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Modernising the welfare stateThe Blair legacy$
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Martin Powell

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9781847420404

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847420404.001.0001

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Social security and welfare reform

Social security and welfare reform

(p.53) four Social security and welfare reform
Modernising the welfare state

Stephen McKay

Karen Rowlingson

Policy Press

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

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