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About this book

Social Policy for Social Work provides a comprehensive, critical and engaging introduction to social policy for students and practitioners of social work.

The text is clearly structured into three parts that cover contexts, policies and issues. The first part explores changing perspectives on social policy and social work and provides an introduction to the broad range of specific policy aspects discussed in part two which include:
social security
health and community care
family and child care
criminal justice.

Part three focuses on key issues such as tackling divisions and inequalities, the control of services including empowering people receiving services, and future policy trends. Additionally, appendices provide a key to common abbreviations, dates of the main legislation and internet addresses of main information sources on policy and research.

Illustrations from practice are included throughout to highlight implications for social work practice. The text focuses on contemporary Britain but also draws examples from European, global and historical contexts wherever appropriate.

This exceptional text demonstrates clearly the relevance and implications of social policy for social work practice. It is an essential and practical resource for all students and practitioners in the welfare field.

Table of Contents

Contexts

Frontmatter

1. Changing Perspectives on Social Policy and Social Work

Abstract
The idea that policy is an organised, coherent, worked out strategy which leads to a readily applied, straightforward plan for practice is attractive but mistaken. As an experienced social policy researcher says:
it is a view born of a rational, logical approach to the process of planning and policy formulation. Appealing as this view may be, the reality, especially in the field of social policy, is that it tends to be complex, messy and created within a dynamic environment of competing forces and tensions. (Spurgeon, 2000, p. 191)
Robert Adams

Policies

Frontmatter

2. Social Security

Abstract
Social security policies should be considered in the context of significant levels of poverty which persist in society. Child poverty in Britain is three times higher than 20 years ago, and 40 per cent of British children are born into low-income families with unhealthy lifestyles. David Piachaud, professor of social policy at the LSE, observes that
out of all 13 year olds, 7% are regular smokers. Alcohol consumption among 11–15 year olds more than doubled in the 1990s; one quarter drink every week, averaging the equivalent of over four pints of beer. (Piachaud, 2000, p. 7)
Robert Adams

3. Employment

Abstract
It is quite likely that social work clients will have experienced unemployment, underemployment or work which is unrewarding and low paid. This is because of a massive shift from full-time to part-time working, which meant that by the early 1990s only a third of the British workforce worked a conventional full-time working week (Hewitt, 1993). At the same time, British men, on average, have the longest working hours in the EC, 40 per cent of them in 1990 working an average of more than 46 hours a week (Commission of the European Communities, 1993). Among women, there is a trend towards more unpaid domestic work at home; and in employment, more part-time, relatively lower paid work in absolute terms and relative to men in similar work. This range of unsatisfactory circumstances is not recorded adequately in official statistics. The unemployment statistics tend to record those claiming unemployment benefit, when, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the level of unemployment should total all those seeking a job and available to work, regardless of their social security status.
Robert Adams

4. Housing

Abstract
How can housing policy and practice ensure that all people have access to decent housing which meets their needs? Housing policy questions such as this are inseparable from the broader concerns of social policy. The quality of houses that people occupy provides a benchmark for the quality of their lives. Housing is a core aspect of the environment in which people live.
Robert Adams

5. Health and Community Care

Abstract
Health services are struggling to meet the demands of the public and many are failing the performance criteria of government: excessive length of waiting lists for treatment; variable costs and levels of efficiency; variable standards of treatment in different hospitals; an unacceptable risk of patients becoming infected in hospitals; geographical inequalities in mortality rates; and class inequalities in morbidity (disease and suffering) and mortality rates and the take-up of services (Ham, 1985, pp. 165–83). Community care suffers from different problems but they add up to similar shortcomings in services: a suitable range of facilities is not available to meet the needs of people in all urban and rural areas; care managers finish up prioritising need and determining eligibility for services; rationing occurs to meet available resources rather than to meet all potential assessed needs (Baldock and Ungerson, 1994). Morale among health and social services front-line workers is low, the turnover of staff is higher than desirable, pay and conditions in social care and healthcare professions are not what they should be.
Robert Adams

6. Family and Childcare

Abstract
Social workers still relate to the Children and Young Persons Acts of 1933, 1963 and 1969 for some aspects of work with children and families, but the bulk of the legislation affecting social work in this area has been consolidated in the Children Act 1989. However, mediation between separating and divorcing couples is dealt with under the Family Law Act 1996, and the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 deals with the respective housing and property rights of separating and divorcing couples. Maintenance payments are dealt with by the Child Support Agency, which was created and reformed under the Child Support Acts 1991 and 1995 (see Chapter 2), while married couples not undergoing divorce can apply for maintenance orders and lump sum payments under the Domestic Proceedings and Magistrates’ Courts Act 1978.
Robert Adams

7. Youth Justice and Criminal Justice

Abstract
To judge by the excessive use of custody, youth and criminal justice in the UK remains overpunitive. An unacceptably high number of young offenders continue to be locked up, including some in prison. In the adult sector, an excessive number of minor, including first, offenders are imprisoned. Meanwhile, the number of life sentence prisoners — currently 4,000, the highest total in recorded history — has grown by ten times over the past 30 years, exceeding the total for the rest of Western Europe put together and growing at more than 300 per year. We can expect the equivalent of ten prisons to be catering for more than 7,000 pensioner prisoners serving life or very long sentences, a decade from now. By the criteria used by officials themselves — reconviction rates, cost, cleanliness — prison is not effective.
Robert Adams

Issues

Frontmatter

8. Tackling Divisions and Inequalities

Abstract
The goal of abolishing discrimination in society and bringing about equality between people has been integral to welfare policy since the establishment of the welfare state. Richard Titmuss, looking back to those days in the 1940s, commented in a lecture in 1964 that:
built into the public model of social policy in Britain since 1948 there are two major roles or objectives: the redistributive objective and the non-discriminatory objective. To move towards the latter it was believed that a prerequisite was the legal enactment of universal (or comprehensive) systems of national insurance, education, medical care, housing and other direct services. (Titmuss, 1976b, p. 191)
Robert Adams

9. Organising and Delivering Social Services

Abstract
We should be sceptical of the argument that the history of the organisation of the social services is one of fairly unimpeded development. Jane Lewis rejects the traditional view that welfare services have moved straightforwardly from the dark ages of the Poor Law to the enlightenment of Beveridge’s plans in 1942. She questions the simplistic assumption that the state took on more responsibilities as individualism was replaced by collectivism, as though this inevitably culminated in the wave of legislation in the 1940s which established the welfare state (Lewis, 1999, p. 249).
Robert Adams

10. Financing Social Services

Abstract
The issue of finance affects social work at two points: at the strategic level of resourcing services and at the tactical level where the agency and the practitioner are charging the client for services. This chapter deals with each of these two aspects in turn.
Robert Adams

11. Who Controls Social Services?

Abstract
Social workers are responsible for working with people so as to empower them to take control over their lives. This is intrinsically contradictory, though, because it implies that the empowering professionals are in control. Many initiatives aiming to give people choice and power are compromised in a similar way. It is important for practitioners to explore these and other similar problems and paradoxes raised by efforts to advance practice in this area. This chapter examines the issues affecting the practitioner engaged in increasing the control of services by people receiving those services and their carers.
Robert Adams

12. Future Trends

Abstract
The political centre of gravity of social policy has shifted to the Right since 1979 when the Conservative government came into office. Assumptions about how much welfare the state should provide were modified during the New Right Conservative government and not restored when New Labour came to power in 1997. There is a question about how much further these assumptions will move, now that Labour has achieved a second landslide victory in June 2001, as it begins its second term in office, with a stated commitment to invest in the public services of education and health and work towards the abolition of child poverty.
Robert Adams
Additional information