The Dynamics of Social Exclusion in Europe

The Dynamics of Social Exclusion in Europe

Comparing Austria, Germany, Greece, Portugal and the UK

Edited by Eleni Apospori and Jane Millar

Issues of poverty and social exclusion are high on the European policy agenda. The Dynamics of Social Exclusion in Europe reports findings from a study funded by the European Commission, using data from the European Community Household Panel, with a multi-dimensional approach to international comparisons of poverty and social exclusion. The research, building upon that of the preceding book – Poverty and Social Exclusion in Europe – compares four groups who are anticipated to be at particular risk of poverty and social exclusion; young adults, lone parents, the sick or disabled, and those retired from employment.

Chapter 7: The dynamics of poverty and deprivation in the UK

Laura Adelman and Andreas Cebulla

Subjects: social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, sociology and sociological theory


Laura Adelman and Andreas Cebulla INTRODUCTION Welfare in the United Kingdom is based on the premise of minimum state provision. The public sector-provided social safety net serves as a last resort, whilst the state’s role is seen as being to enable citizens to retain and improve personal welfare through work (Bennett and Walker, 1998). Social security is generally low-value and financed largely through national taxation. This approach sets the welfare regime of the UK apart from corporate welfare systems, such as in Austria and Germany, which combine active labour market policies with comparatively high social security protection (Standing, 2000). It is also unlike the system of ‘Latin Rim’ countries (Leibfried, 1992), such as Greece and Portugal, as it provides universal coverage, although this universality is achieved at the expense of residual, low benefit levels. Welfare spending in the UK has remained fairly stable during the last three decades, amounting to between 21 per cent and 25 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (Hills, 1998). However, the demand for welfare services and social security increased, often cyclically, as a result of demographic and economic changes, such as population ageing, growth in lone parenthood and unemployment, and the opening of entitlement to newly eligible social groups (Walker and Howard, 2000). In the light of rising caseloads, in particular amongst groups such as lone parents, policy makers became concerned about potentially rising costs, but also about the threat of ‘welfare dependency’. In response, key social security provisions in the country were curtailed....

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