This study looks into social welfare system that is concerned with the various mechanisms put in place by governments to promote human wellbeing by providing assistance to the needy individuals and families without having to subject them to the stigma of charity…
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The paper tells that social welfare system is concerned with the various mechanisms put in place by governments to promote human wellbeing by providing assistance to the needy individuals and families without having to subject them to the stigma of charity. Rubery defines social welfare as ‘an organized response of government, voluntary and profit making sectors to mitigate the worst effects of free market on individuals.’ Different governments have different social welfare systems depending on the needs of citizens as well as political, social and economic conditions. In some countries, welfare services are provided by the government while in others, majority of services are funded through contributions by members, NGOs, and families. All governments aim at ensuring good health for all citizens, access to education and proper housing in order to improve their standards of living and enable them to engage in nation building for economic prosperity. However, some countries like USA and UK have welfare policies aimed at helping the unemployed through unemployment compensation and child care assistance. However, eligibility is constrained through use of means-testing or welfare to work programmes to avoid over reliance on benefits by individuals and reluctance to search for employment. The devolution of social welfare in United Kingdom in 1998 was as a result of constitutional changes enacted by the Blair government. Previously, the UK welfare state promoted notions of national community sharing of burdens, risks and security and a system of national rights but with emergence of devolution, the principle of uniformity was compromised (Birell, 2009). The key areas of social welfare system that were devolved includes; health, housing, education, criminal justice, and social care while UK parliament reserved the power over social security, employment law, immigration, abortion, equality legislation, and taxation. The different countries in UK (Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) were given power to legislate some areas of social policy and each country has different standards of social welfare. This move had various impacts on social welfare system which will be discussed in the paper. The United Kingdom Social Welfare System The UK social welfare policies are aimed at promoting solidarity, cohesion and fairness. Every citizen has a right to health care, education and proper housing irrespective of gender, race, religion or nationality unlike in the past during the regime of Poor Laws Act which was based on male dominance. According to this Act, males were the providers to their families hence the rest of family members were treated as dependants and therefore the welfare provision was given to males. However, as the nature of work changed and more women absorbed in the labour market, it became necessary to treat all citizens equally, besides, some benefits such as national health service (NHS) and social security were based on contributions from earnings (Lavallette & Pratt, 2006). Moreover, a healthy workforce is the backbone of the economy thus a country has to ensure access to health care to all its citizens. All citizens are required to register with practitioners or access free health services in hospitals. The government also ensures subsidized housing through national housing or assisting the low income earners to pay rent. Education was free in UK until 1998 when the loan system and partial tuition fees was introduced (Rubery, 2010). However, the fees and loans are funded by the state and are accessible to all students and repaid only if earning exceed a certain threshold. The social security benefits enable citizens not to lose their income during turbulent times or due to other circumstances such as old age or disablement through the pension scheme, unemployment compensation and income support schemes (Parry, 2012). Devolution of UK Social Welfare System According to McEwen and Parry (2005), the UK had a unitary,
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(Social Welfare Systems in United Kingdom Assignment)
“Social Welfare Systems in United Kingdom Assignment”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/sociology/1394553-social-welfare-systems-in-united-kingdom.
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