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Social Policy and Society

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Various Kinds of Social Policy

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Introduction to Social Policy

Social policy refers to a mechanism that combines economics, politics and sociology in order to examine that how UK government is addressing social issues for ensuring justice and public welfare. It consists of various rules, regulations and statutory principles that government uses for welfare and protection of the society. The present project report emphasizes upon various kinds of social policies and regulations applied in UK i.e. Poor Law Act, 1834, Welfare state and New Labour Social Policy for examining the mandatory governing principles to ensure public safety and well-being.

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1. Importance of 1834 Poor Law in social policy

In 1834, UK Parliament has introduced several amendments in Poor Law 1601, called Poor Law Amendment Act 1837 or New Poor Law. The amendments were introduced considering three principles, Malthus, Ricardo’s iron law of wages and Bentham’s principle that people demand relief rather than working somewhere. The legislation plays an important role in the social policy because after such amendments, people believe that the reform will reduce the cost of looking to the poor because they would have stopped the outflow of money to the poor except only in special circumstances. Now, after the reform in 1834, people have to go to the workstations where they are provided with the cloth, food and shelter facilities in exchange for the labor work performed. They are abided by the strict principles, rules and regulations and live in terrible conditions. The law encourages and motivates poor people in the society for working hard to help themselves and take beggars out off the street. It has two priorities stated as moving of people to the urban areas, towns, cities where individual can found employment opportunities and protecting urban payers from the excessive wages demand of migrant people before getting a full-time employment.

Many individuals react positively to such reforms i.e. Duke of Wellington and Poor law Commissioner named James Kay-Shuttleworth supported the act as they believed that majority of the population were poor just because of their own foolishness. They said that industrial revolution has led too many changes i.e. rapid growth of population, rising rate of unemployment and others, which in turn, increases number of poor in the country. Thus, these amendments are based on the principle of less eligibility and workhouse test will have a serious impact on the poverty in UK. The act was issued on the belief that granting financial assistance, pensions and other benefits can result in serious consequences; thus, poverty is seen as a misfortune and pays focus on improvement of poverty and employment rate so as to make poor people free from the poverty. However, on the other hand, Richard Oastler has argued that new law is cruel by calling workhouses as prisoners for the poor people as they are not maintained in well condition. In response to it, the government has introduced a system of regular inspection of the workhouses. Although the act was issued with the view to reduce poverty; still, its importance is declining with the coming of welfare states in the nation.

2. Progress of social policy between 1900 and 1914

In 1900, UK government has estimated that nearly 30% of the population were living at the edge of starvation where they were suffering various issues due to lack of food availability. At the same time, there were high level of income and wealth inequality that were noticed by the government, as a result, during the period of 1906-1914, a number of liberal social reforms have been introduced by the British liberal party that was elected in 1906. It comprises free meals to the children in school in 1906, medical check-ups of pupils in 1907, compensation to workers for suffering from injuries at the workplace in 1906, Old-Age Pension Act in 1908 wherein all the pensioners were provided with the extra pension of 5 shillings, introduction of National Insurance Act in 1911 to provide insurance facilities to all the employees from sickness by paying a weekly premium of four penny and unemployment benefits were also brought in certain specific industries such as shipbuilding.

Despite this, under the social reform, British party had charged high rate of taxes on the rich people so as to collect funds and spent it on the poor, in order to provide better facilities and improving conditions of the poorer people in the society. . In 1909, labour exchange was also introduced to provide help to the unemployed people who are looking for the job by providing them a platform where they can apply for the job in interested field. Apart from this, in 1912, clinics were established in school to diagnose health concerns and illness of the children. In 1914, local authorities were also provided with the government grants to deliver maternal and welfare facilities to the child.

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3. Strengths and weaknesses of the welfare state in 1940s

Welfare state is a concept wherein state government plays a key role in society as they perform enormous activities and made decisions to protect the health concern & well-being of all the citizens. In this regards, regulatory body provides financial help to poor by various means i.e. pensions, government grants and other monetary and non-monetary benefits. They run their functions considering the principle of equal opportunity for equitable treatment of all the citizens and equal distribution of wealth in the society so as to deliver well-being benefits to the society.


Easy access to healthcare facilities

UK government provides medical and health care facilities to all the people on equality principle without any biasness and discrimination. Thus, it makes easier for all the people, especially poor who do not have funds to take benefits of healthcare facilities to cure their diseases and improve life expectancy.

Fulfil basic needs

It fulfils basic needs of the individuals such as food, shelter and other free of cost services i.e. medical care for their well-being.


Risk of fraud

Exploitation of welfare programmes is a risk which can cause hurdles in providing well-being benefits to the society. Therefore, it is essential for the government to regularly investigate the programme to reduce any fraudulent act and deliver services to the right people who really need it.

Less incentive for better job

Welfare state does not provide any incentive to the people and do not motivate them to get better job and employment for the better life standards. By getting services i.e. grants, pensions & other kinds of financial support, people feel dependent and do not desire to work anywhere.

4. Key features of New Labour social policy

New Labour policy consists of existing as well as upcoming strategies and policies so as to provide better working conditions to the people and satisfy immigrant workers. The policy is also termed as “Third way” that is introduced with the view to revolutionize entire society and combat various social problems i.e. long-term unemployment, rising rate of poverty, streamline voluntary employment programme and many others. The target of the new reform is to overcome workplace barriers for the employees so as to provide them extremely well conditions and modernize National Childcare strategy as well. The act is targeted to minimize the workplace barrier and issues suffered by disabled people by reforming various benefits related to employees’ disability. In the current time, employment rate is increasing; thus, such labour reforms took place to design number of policies to assist older workers and address their concerns and problems.

New Labour social policy addresses issues like discrimination practices on grounds of gender, age, ethnicity, nationality, citizenship etc. and workplace conflicts with the welfare state; so that the government can take legal actions and make strategies to ensure compliance with equal opportunity and anti-discrimination policies. The policy makes it legal compulsion upon organizations to provide equal opportunities to all the workers without any discrimination. Besides this, other area of discrepancy i.e. pension and others are also considered in the new policy to overcome problems. In addition to this, aim of the policy is to provide employment services to all the eligible people so as to tackle issues of unemployment in the society. Despite this, the policy also focuses upon maintaining collaborative and cooperative working environment that is free from individualism so as to build favourable, familiar and healthier surroundings at the workplace.


From the carried analysis made in the report, it can be concluded that 1834 Poor Law amendment act was issued so as to reduce the cost of looking after poor and thereby encouraging them to find better job opportunities to get rid of poverty. Besides this, analysis of welfare state has discovered that they provide benefits to the society to get easy healthcare access and fulfil their basic needs. Lastly, it is examined that New Labour social policy has been introduced with the aim to maintain better working conditions and provide equal opportunity and right by treating all the employees equally without any bias.


  • Bochel, H. and Powell, M., 2016.The coalition government and social policy: restructuring the welfare state. Policy Press.
  • Crowther, M.A., 2016.The workhouse system 1834-1929 the history of an English social institution. Routledge.
  • De la Porte, C. and Heins, E., 2016. A new era of European integration? Governance of labour market and social policy since the sovereign debt crisis. In The sovereign debt crisis, the EU and welfare state reform. Palgrave Macmillan UK.
  • Evans, P., 2016. Workhouses and Poor Law Unions.
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