Summary of Key Points Social policy is a unique subject, but is closely linked to the other social sciences and studied by students undertaking a wide range of social science courses and professional qualifications.Over time the scope of analysis and debate in the subject has broadened, captured in the change in title from social administration to social policy.Academic study of social policy has always been closely linked to policy practice, with leading academics sometimes acting as advisers to government.The creation of the ‘welfare state’ by the post-war Labour government established public services to meet welfare needs.Criticisms of state welfare from the New Left and the New Right have argued that the continued expansion of state welfare is not sustainable. In the last quarter of the last century this seemed to be borne out as an economic crisis led to retrenchment in social policy planning and welfare expenditure.At the beginning of the twenty-first century a Third Way, between the left and the right, was championed by government in the UK.Following the economic recession of 2008/09 there has been pressure to reduce public spending on welfare provision in the UK, and elsewhere.Social policy can no longer be studied solely within national boundaries, and comparative analysis of welfare in different countries has revealed that in different countries there are different mixes of welfare services.It is how this ‘welfare mix’ operates, and changes, in Britain that is the core concern of students of social policy.This mix also varies within Britain now, as a result of the devolution of much social policy planning to the separate administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
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- Introduction: The Development of Social Policy
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