Welfare reform

Welfare reform is a movement for policy change in countries with a state-administered social welfare systems. Welfare reform is a movement to change a government's social welfare policy with aims at reducing recipient dependence on the government. Members of the movement often act based on fears of a government Welfare State. Proponents of welfare reform posit that welfare programs, as they stand, act counterproductively towards their stated goals by perpetuating poverty through creating dependence on the government.

United States


CriticsWho|date=September 2008 made dire predictions about the consequences of welfare reform. For instance, they claimed that the five-year time limit was needlessly short, and that those who exceeded the limit through no fault of their own might turn to begging or crime. They also felt that too little money was devoted to vocational training. Others criticized the block grant system, claiming that states would not be able to administer the program properly, or would be too motivated by cost. Finally, it was claimed that although the bill might work in a booming economy like that of the 1990s, it would cause significant harm in a recession.

Supporters held that the five-year limit was a necessity, that allowing states to experiment would result in improving welfare, and that the number of people affected by the five-year limit would be small. These controversies have not been fully resolved.

The consequences of welfare reform have been dramatic. As expected, welfare rolls (the number of people receiving payments) dropped significantly (57%) in the years since passage of the bill. Substantially larger declines in welfare rolls were posted by many states, and even big city-dominated Illinois achieved an 86% reduction in welfare recipients. [MacDougal 2005] Child poverty rates for African American families have dropped the sharpest since statistics began to be tallied in the 1960s, although critics argue that this is due more to overall economic improvement than to welfare reform, and that in any case the rate of child poverty in the United States is still far higher than in nations with greater welfare protections. Some would counter that this apparent disparity is due to misleading statistical analysis (measuring inequality rather than poverty) and that welfare rolls in the United States historically are much more closely correlated with government spending rather than economic fluctuations. The original bill was set to expire in September 2002; Congress passed numerous reauthorizations as debate continued over Republican attempts to increase the amount of hours that recipients should be required to work. The 1996 welfare reform law was reauthorized in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. The reauthorization required the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), by June 30, 2006, to promulgate regulations designed to address eligible work activities and uniform reporting and accountability measures. The reauthorization maintains the original law’s requirement that 50 percent of states’ welfare caseloads fulfill statutory work requirements. To fulfill work requirements, TANF recipients must be participating for 20 hours per week (or 30 hours in cases where the youngest child is 6 years old or older) in one or more of the 12 work activities named in the statute.

The Welfare System and reform in Great Britain

Social welfare is administered in three ways in Great Britain, the National Health Service, the Social Services program, and the Pensions Service program [http://elt.britcoun.org.pl/elt/h_what.htm] all play a part in the providing social welfare.

The three branches of welfare

The National Health Service provides a system of government supplied health care. The agency employs over two million doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and other health care workers to achieve this end. It has at its disposal a budget of over £ 60 billion. The National Health Service is the primary implementation mechanism of Department of Health policy. Welfare administration dealing with Social Services, a major branch of welfare, also falls under NHS juridiction.

Welfare in Great Britain also consists of a Social Security program that is administered by the Pension Service, and it provides financial aid to individuals and families that qualify. It also promotes what it calls an "equality scheme." [http://www.thepensionservice.gov.uk/aboutus/equality/home.asp]

The Movement for Reform

The recent actions taken towards reforming the welfare system in Britain begin with 1997's New Deal Program [http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/newsroom_and_speeches/press/1997/press_145_97.cfm] . The Labour Party focused on increasing employment through requiring that recipients of aid actively consider seeking employment. This movement is similar in ideal to a workfare system. The Labour Party also introduced a system of tax credits for low-income workers.

The most recent act on welfare reform in Great Britain is the Welfare Act of 2007 [http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/content.aspx?LegType=All+Primary&PageNumber=1&NavFrom=2&parentActiveTextDocId=3339981&activetextdocid=3340090] . The act provides for "an employment and support allowance, a contributory allowance, [and] an income-based allowance."

The Welfare System and reform in France

The welfare system in France is based upon a system of social insurance, family allowances, and pensions. A social security program is maintained where workers and employers pay into a fund that the worker can draw from when they become unable to continue working. Contributions are earnings based and both groups, employers and workers, are involved in maintaining the situation. The program's budget is not actually part of the official state budget of France. However, the French government is still crucial in that it regulates the program. Its specific authority in the area is still unclear.

Beginning in the mid-1970s, a deficit in the program began to appear. The deficit saw peaks at 27.75% of the social insurance budget in 1992. This led to a major push by the government to cut back spending in the welfare program. By the end of the 1990s the deficit had been almost completely eradicated. The often large deficits that the program has endured has led to a tremendous amount of opposition to the program as it stands.


* Blank, Rebecca M. “Evaluating Welfare Reform in the United States.” (2002) "Journal of Economic Literature" 40 (4): 1105-1166. [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0022-0515%28200212%2940%3A4%3C1105%3AEWRITU%3E2.0.CO%3B2-A online at JSTOR]
* Howard Chernwick, “Fiscal Effects of Block Grants for the Needy: An Interpretation of the Evidence,” "Tax and Public Finance" 5, no. 2 (1998): 205–33.
* R. Kent Weaver, "Ending Welfare As We Know It" Brookings Institution, 2000.
* Rebecca M. Blank and Ron Haskins, eds., "The New World of Welfare." Brookings Institution Press, 2001.
* Mark H. Greenberg "et al.", "The 1996 Welfare Law: Key Elements and Reauthorization Issues Affecting Children" "The Future of Children", Vol. 12, 2002.
* Ron Haskins, "Work over Welfare: The Inside Story of the 1996 Welfare Reform Law." Brookings Institution Press, 2006.
* Michael B. Katz. "In the Shadow of the Poorhouse: A Social History of Welfare in America" (1986)
* Longman, Phillip, "The Empty Cradle: How Falling Birth Rates Threaten World Prosperity and What to Do About It" Basic Books, 2004.
*Polly, John. "Triumph of a Stubborn Lady," "Look" (February 9, 1965): 64-69. Details on this article re early experiment in Washington State with NDVR (Non-disabled Vocational Rehabilitation).
* Michael D. Tanner, "The Poverty of Welfare: Helping Others in Civil Society." Cato Institute 2003, libertarian approach.
* Gary MacDougal, "Make A Difference: A Spectacular Breakthrough in the Fight Against Poverty", St. Martin's Press.

External links

Reform in the Great Britain

* [http://www.jrf.org.uk/knowledge/findings/foundations/n44.asp Labour's Welfare Reform: Progress to Date]
* [http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/content.aspx?LegType=All+Primary&PageNumber=1&NavFrom=2&parentActiveTextDocId=3339981&activetextdocid=3340090 Welfare Reform Act of 2007]

Reform in the US

* [http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/regfact.htm Welfare Reform: Interim Final Regulations from the U.S. HHS]
* [http://www.house.gov/house/Contract/CONTRACT.html The Contract with America]
* [http://www.senate.gov/~rpc/releases/1999/wf080599.htm Welfare Reform: Bringing Dignity to Millions (But Not to Bill Clinton)] - 1999 U.S. Senate Republican Committee

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