1. What is meant by the term ‘the welfare state’ today in contemporary Britain?
The term “welfare state” today in contemporary Britain entails three principal elements. These are: Guaranteed minimum standards, for example the implementation of minimum wage, as at October 2010 it is set at £5. 93/hr. Secondly the state offers social protection in the form of health and safety laws and the provision of services on the basis of individual rights.
Generally the term welfare state refers to the provisions made by a state intended to protect its citizens from social problems – principally ill health, unemployment, poor housing and lack of access to education.
Welfare provision is characterised, in Fulcher and Scott’s view (1999/2003), by a varying amount of compromise between two polarised viewpoints: the market model, where citizens purchase healthcare, education and the like privately, against the welfare-state model, where the state fulfils welfare needs. Supporters of the market model believe that state welfare “is excessively bureaucratic and therefore inefficient” (Taylor et al, 1995/2005: 155).
Because we so often talk about 'the welfare state', it is easy to forget that there are other agencies beside the state which provide welfare. This situation has been described as 'welfare pluralism'. There are private-sector providers in the shape of private schools and medical services and there has also been a greater emphasis on the voluntary sector in recent years. The move away from institutional care which was often criticized for being bureaucratic and unresponsive has also been fuelled by the policy of care in the community', though there is a question-mark over who exactly in the community provides such care.
2. What are the essential characteristics of ONE of the following models:
i) ‘liberal’ welfare states
(ii) ‘conservative’ welfare states
iii) ‘social democratic’ welfare states?