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Review of the article “Social Policy, Social Welfare, and the Welfare State” by John Baldock

John Badlock explains what social policy consists of and tries to define it broadly and also shows what all can be calculated under social spending. He explains the social policy framework in terms of is intentions, objectives, and outcomes, financial and administrative arrangements. Then he throws light on welfare state and its evolution and makes us thinks of whether the welfare state is required in this globalised competitive world or not.
               The author starts by saying that social policy and welfare systems are studied because social expenditures by governments are often the largest part of their budgets and because welfare services are a substantial part of the economies of industrial societies. He says social policy has two meanings, one as academic subject and the other as intentions and activities of governments that are broadly social in their nature. He says that instead of defining social policy it would be helpful simply to look at examples of what are generally called social policies. He gives a list of optional units currently found within UK Social Policy degree courses and admits that these are dynamic in nature and changes from time to time. He shows classic examples of social policies are the activities of governments in five main areas: social protection benefits (often known as social security), health services, education services, housing provision and subsidies, personal social services.
               He quotes William Beveridge's 'five giants'. 'The Plan for Social Security is put forward as part of a general programme of social policy. It is one part only of an attack upon five giant evils: upon the physical Want with which it is directly concerned, upon Disease which often causes that Want and brings many other troubles in its train, upon Ignorance which no democracy can afford among its citizens, upon the Squalor which arises mainly through haphazard distribution of industry and population, and upon the Idleness which destroys wealth and corrupts men, whether they are well fed or not, when they are idle.' (Beveridge 1942: 170; emphasis added)
               He defines social policy in terms of total money that is spent on it. For this he takes OECD definition 'social expenditure by broad social policy area' which has two parts, Public social expenditure by governments including social services, tax breaks, cash benefits and private social expenditure by NGO’s. He compares this expenditure figures as percentage of GDP of different countries to show how much amount of money is being spent on welfare by various nations. He terms these benefits and services as 'social protection'.
                For him there are there are two key aspects to the OECD's definition of social expenditure: Social expenditure is the result of explicit government laws or regulations that require the payment of taxes or contributions to meet the costs of adverse circumstances that may affect individuals or households. The other key aspect is Social expenditure involves a degree of redistribution from the less needy to the more needy.
               Across the countries in the OECD tables the two largest types of social spending, comprising more than half the total, are on incomes for retired people and on healthcare. He says sometimes education is not included in social protections as governments do not provide education in order to provide support 'during circumstances which adversely affect people's welfare' but rather as a form of investment.
               He also says there is no universal agreement as to the definition of a social policy but he says social policies can be examined in terms of a frame work given below

Social policy as intentions and objectives: The intentions and objectives of the social policy will be clear when the government enacts some welfare schemes for the people. But these intentions might not be spelt out clearly and there may be ambiguous policy goals which the local authorities might not understand and there the deviations in reality from policy objectives and intentions. The common types of intention and objective suggested by the social policy literature are redistribution, risk management and reducing social exclusion.
                'A social policy is defined as a deliberate intervention by the state to redistribute resources amongst its citizens so as to achieve a welfare objective'. Here two kinds of redistribution are considered. First, there is redistribution away from those who have more to those who have less in order to create greater equality. Secondly, the state may use social policy to redistribute resources because the existing allocation is inefficient when there is market failure.
                Management of risk: societies collectively protect themselves from the risks of harm that individuals face in life. Richard Titmuss distinguished between natural risks or dependencies, such as childhood, sickness, and old age, and man-made risks that are products of our civilization, such as unemployment and industrial injury (Titmuss 1976: 42-4). As the pace of change increases and as the risks become more global in nature, so the kinds of policies required changes. Only policy agreements on a world scale will now protect us from some environmental risks.
                The attractiveness of social inclusion stems in from the realization that exclusion is inefficient for society; social exclusion is produced when incomes are excessively unequal and leads to poverty and it reflects a failure to tackle the risks that face people in complex societies and it creates new risks, particularly if the excluded become alienated from the wider society.
Social policy as administrative and financial arrangements
Social policies generally use one of three main administrative forms to achieve their goals. Regulations, passing laws that require individuals and organizations to do, or not to do, particular things, Services in Kind directly to the people such as healthcare, education and housing and through cash benefits. The success of social policy depends greatly on the organizational arrangements by the government. But administrative arrangements can go wrong in two ways, distracting from original intentions and organizations taking up their own intentions forward.
The two main ways which social policies are financed are by taxation (the direct taxation of incomes and profits and the indirect taxation of other economic activities) and by social insurance contributions. These finances are in turn used for the well being of the people. The management of the public finances is through planning and controlling public expenditures. To prevent waste, inefficiency and overspending we need sophisticated financial systems.
Social Policy as Outcomes
Richard Titmuss, when seeking to define the academic discipline called 'social policy', headed his list with 'the analysis and description of policy formation and its consequences, intended and unintended' (Titmuss 1968:22). Most of the policies do not have the outcomes that are desired but has unintended consequences. But the author says to look at what degree to which social policies have been successful in defeating the 'five giant evils' highlighted in William Beveridge's report. Many argue that the outcomes of social policies are due to the economic growth but the author disputes the argument showing that the income inequalities have risen in UK.
Social Welfare
                The author says social welfare cannot be defined so easily but he says a useful and influential way of understanding this complexity is the 'welfare triangle'. He says main sources of wellbeing are the market, state and families and communities although people depend on these things differently in different countries based on their history and politics. He also points that as the map shows directions the people are also dependent more on families in south, market in west and on state in the east.

The Welfare State:
Societies in which a substantial part of the production of welfare is paid for and provided by the government have been called 'welfare states'. But which country comes under welfare state is debated and some say we need to use the term welfare system instead of welfare state because, historically, the welfare state was at one time understood as the twentieth century's most complete answer to social need. The idea of welfare state was of a social safety net.
Comparing Types of welfare state: This is fundamental to the comparative study of social policy. The best-known typology of welfare states is that suggested by Gosta Esping-Andersen in his important book, The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism (1990). This divides welfare states into three main types: the neo-liberal (for example the United States), the social democratic (Sweden), and the corporatist (Germany).
The development of welfare state: The author takes two accounts of the evolution of welfare state based on their domination in literature. He is skeptical that history might be biased or simplified and selected. He says evolution of welfare state might be a consequence of industrialization or of political competition. Most histories of the welfare state give considerable weight to the processes of industrialization.
The author concludes by asking a question “has the 'golden age' of the welfare state passed?” He says that growth of a global economy requires the driving down of costs in order to compete in economic markets, and this makes it difficult for governments to expand welfare expenditures and sometimes also cut them. He concludes by saying that scholars in Europe are putting an argument that the old and ill suited systems of social protection cannot answer the great challenges of our time and might also hinder the progress.
My conclusion: This is an informative and logical article which takes the different dominating arguments relating to social policy, social protection and evolution of welfare state and gives us a very good understanding of how social policies are made and what outcomes does it get. He also gives a very good description of how social policies have changed over a period of time with the change in welfare state and at the end presents us with a question for ourselves to think over. Is the golden of welfare state over? The answer to this question what I feel is No. With inequalities rising and crony capitalism making way into developing countries I don’t expect welfarism to end. Welfare state will prevail in one name or the other since markets will not be able to equitably distribute the resources, which we can see daily in our day to day life.
Note: I would have better reviewed this article if it was written as an article in the first place. This is an introductory chapter from a book and the author tries explaining what he is going to teach further in the book. So, with considerable limitation I have reviewed this chapter/article.