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The British Welfare State - Essay Example

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This essay deals with the British Welfare State, the influences and personalities that brought it about its origins, development, problems and benefits.It looks at such things as legislation and the reports on which such laws are based…
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The British Welfare State
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The British Welfare State

This essay deals with the British Welfare State, the influences and personalities that brought it about its origins, development, problems and benefits. It looks at such things as legislation and the reports on which such laws are based. In particular it considers the inequalities the welfare state sought to redress, but also point out inequalities in more recent years, and the possible reasons behind these. This essay will deal with the British Welfare System and the inequalities it sought to remedy in such areas as education, employment opportunities, justice and health. The United Kingdom is a state in which centralised government , and the legislation it produces, directs its welfare system to a great extent. However, although one state, it is not one country. This means, especially since the setting up of separate parliaments that legislation and therefore provision and available services in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as in England will differ to some extent. Also there is no one ‘Welfare State Ministry’. The Cabinet office for instance is responsible for public service reform, the Treasury for finances, and there are of course numerous othe rinvovled departemnts and agencies. This means that in some cases inequalities are built into the governmantal system. However reasons for inequalities are many and varied , and not just linked to legislation. This essay will consider the failures as well as the positive attributes of such a system , and why these occurred and continue to do so. It will look briefly at the history and origins of the present system and its gradual development. It will consider problems that have arisen and why these occurred. One of the initial problems is perhaps the definition of inequality within society. Is it to do with equality of opportunity or equality of outcome? The former for instance was dealt with by such things as the provision of free secondary education for all. But all children were not as capable intellectually of benefiting from a grammer school education and so schools were developed offering education of a more practical nature. Some of those who passed the grammer school entrance examinations could not proceed for economic reasons or because of family pressures and so ended up in secondary modern or technical schools, for which presumably they were not best suited. All this means that, in the case of education at least, although technically there was an equality of opportunity, in fact there was not, and there certainly could never be equalities of outcomes. In more recent times parents have supposedly been given more choice as to which schools their children will go to, but the practice falls far short of such an idealistic situation. With regards to health perhaps the situation would be more equal? After all the health service was set up as free at the point of need. But now in the 21st century the media are full of the ‘post code lottery’ or reports about some Health Care Trusts refusing to fund certain treatments, in some cases potentiality life saving, which are available in other areas, or, of course, to those who are willing and able to pay. Inequality rules therefore in health care as in other areas of society. There has always been economic inequality in human societies since the very first caveman noticed that his neighbour had a better axe than he has. The exact nature of inequalities in society, their causes and effects as well as their importance have long been a matter for debate, but is clear that the varying abilities of people to create wealth for whatever reasons , are part of the complex pattern of equalities in soci ... Read More
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