A European Perspective
Edited by Dominique Anxo, Gerhard Bosch and Jill Rubery
Chapter 2: The UK Welfare State: More than Residual but Still Insufficient
2. The UK welfare state: more than residual but still insufficient Jill Rubery Analysing the UK’s social model through the lens of the support it provides for key life course transitions has a number of advantages. First, it illuminates the strengths and weaknesses of welfare systems that may not be revealed when welfare regimes are classified as a whole (EspingAndersen 1990). For example, the UK is often classified along with the US as a residual welfare model, which may not adequately capture the characteristics of the UK welfare system.1 Second, the approach reveals the interactions between three key elements of the UK model, as commonly classified – its residual welfare model, its flexible labour market and its weak family system. Finally, by focusing on the changing mix and levels of support at these life stages, the potential impact of current and planned changes by gender, class and generation may be identified. As this is prospective as much as current or retrospective, the analysis will be more indicative than detailed and quantified. TRANSITION FROM SCHOOL LEAVING TO HIGHER EDUCATION OR FIRST EMPLOYMENT Traditionally the UK school-to-work model split into direct entry into employment for the majority and entry into an elite higher education system for a minority. The move to a more mass higher education system since the early 1990s, with a target for 50 per cent of the cohort to attend higher education, marked a major change in this model. Change for those young people still not entering higher education has...
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