Western welfare states such as Sweden and the United Kingdom have taken particular interest in children in particular and families in general because "these are the groups that form the centrepiece of most political and policy debates." (Wintour, 2003, p 12)The reason behind this interest in children is that they are forms human capital that will become useful in the future…
In fact, this is one of the only developed countries in the world that have managed to base their political and economic system on social democracy. However, in the UK, there is a dual system in place. Some people argue that it is a liberal one while others believe that there is more centred on universal provision. The paper shall look at these two welfare systems in relation to childhood poverty.
Esping Andersen makes reference to three basic models of welfare states and these include the liberal, democratic and conservative models. The liberal model is common among Anglo Saxons and is basically characterised by modest insurance policy plans, means tested assistance and moderate universal transfers. The system is designed to accommodate those who may be state dependent and those who come from low income groups. Additionally, such systems are characterised by stigmatisation in welfare provision and market forces play a huge role there. Usually, issues such as freedom and equality govern such a system.
The corporatist welfare system is also known as the conservative model. In such a country, welfare systems are designed to preserve classes and traditional systems. No effort is made to uplift individuals from one group to another and voluntary efforts from churches and other organisations play a large role. The last model that Esping Andersen discusses is the social democratic welfare state. In this kind of regime, the concept of social democracy is what drives their welfare system. There is a deliberate effort to promote equality. In such countries, the state is not in direct conflict with the market or class conflicts between the middle class and the working class are not present. Usually, this model is prevalent in Scandinavian countries. The essay shall look at welfare systems in UK and Sweden with reference to Esping Andersen's classifications.
The UK's welfare system
Statistics indicate that over the past generation, childhood poverty has increased by one hundred percent above the past generation. This same statistics also indicate that a compared to most other developed nation, the United Kingdom has one of the highest child poverty rates. In response to these disturbing numbers, the government has stepped in to try and eradicate child poverty. During Prime Minister Tony Blair's reign, there was an ambitious plan to eradicate child poverty by the year 2020. (Bradsi, Bryan & Berthoud, 2004)
This announcement was made in the year 1999. However, as of 2006/2007 there are still an estimated two point nine million children living in poverty. Consequently, the government is yet to achieve its goals.
Despite these staggering figures, one must not assume that the government has done nothing ever since its 1999 announcement. In fact, estimates show that over the last eight years, around six hundred children has been removed from the poverty bracket. The UK government has set up a number of strategies to eradicate child poverty. First of all, they tackle child poverty through divisions that centre on various categories of poverty. For instance, there are the temporarily poor, the persistently poor and the recurrent poor. Also, the government's strategy in tackling poverty within the country is centred on the need to encourage parents to gain employment. This approach was one of the foundations of the UK ...
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