Posts in Social Policy
Social Security and the Labour Market

All countries beyond a certain level of development have social security systems whose principal task is to manage risks of interruption to income from employment. The UK’s system, however, is both dysfunctional and unjust, not to mention coercive and harsh, in its mode of operation. How can we reform the social security system to make it both more efficient and fairer?

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The Common Ground Trust: a route out of the housing crisis

Rising house prices and rent prices systematically undermine the progressive vision of a society with equal opportunities for all. They also make our economy highly vulnerable to debt crises and other macroeconomic shocks. An end to house price inflation can be more quickly achieved than many people assume, through better macroprudential supervision of bank lending, tax reform, restrictions on the ownership of UK property by non-UK residents, and – crucially - a strengthening of tenants’ rights.

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Mental Health in the Social Security System

As the number of unemployed social security claimants has declined, the government’s drive for reductions in the benefits bill has focussed increasingly on the chronic sick and the disabled. The government’s aim is not to improve the well-being of these claimants but rather to classify as many of them as possible as fit for work and to push them into whatever jobs are available.

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Social PolicyJohn Grahl
A Sustainable Economy

Economic growth remains the predominant policy goal in the UK. However, the pursuit of economic growth stands at odds with environmental sustainability, and it is not needed to achieve social objectives such as full employment and improved quality of life.

A fundamentally different approach to managing the economy is required that puts people and the planet ahead of growth in GDP.

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Procurement & the Third Sector

For public sector workers, outsourcing to third sector organisations of local government and NHS delivery represents as big a threat as the private sector.

A Labour government should consider returning cooperatives, mutuals, social enterprises and third sector organisations to their original function of employment provision and generation, community support and self defence. 

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Universal Basic Income

A universal basic income (UBI), tax-free weekly income to every individual, provides an administratively simple method to resolve a range of social problems. A modified scheme that provided a universal and unconditional income at a moderate starting level, leaving much of the existing system intact, would be feasible, affordable and beneficial.

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Changing Occupational Pension Funds

British employees have traditionally relied on occupational pension funds in addition to Pay-As-You-Go State pensions to provide retirement income. These workplace funds are becoming less able to provide income security for all, let alone promote economic growth and financial stability. A change in state benefits must form the core of any retirement income provision system. If occupational pensions are to form a meaningful part of the change, a number of problems need to be addressed.

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Replacing Universal Credit

The Conservative Government elected in 2015 declared an objective of reducing expenditure on working age claimants by £12 billion a year – that is £12 billion from the unemployed, the chronic sick and the low-paid (and their children). The then Labour leadership decided to abstain on the issue. There could be no better example of the bankruptcy of mainstream politics in Britain.

It is doubtful whether existing policies could in fact secure such a reduction in the near future. 

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Publicly Funded Drug Research

It is government policy, not market processes, which cause high drug prices. Patent monopolies have the negative effects that free market oriented economists typically ascribe to government interference in the market. Altering government policy would make drugs cheaper for the NHS and thus increase provision. 

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Social PolicyDean Baker
A National Care Service

The adequate provision of social care is a major issue facing the UK. A near crisis has been triggered by the failures of privatised provision, aggravated by the austerity inflicted upon the NHS. 

However, it is not just a question of providing enough care but also about developing new and different forms of care. 

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