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About this book

The UK Social Policy Process examines the wide range of factors that influence social policies and their outcomes. Devolution, 'modernisation', reform of the public services, emphases on public participation and on 'what works' in the delivery of welfare are all impacting on and shaping social policy. Combining coverage of theoretical perspectives with discussion of institutional change, this book provides a timely examination of the policy process and social policy, from agenda setting to implementation and evaluation.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Abstract
One of the key characteristics of the study of social policy is its interdisciplinary nature, drawing upon subjects such as economics, history, sociology and politics. It also embraces a variety of approaches. These include the exploration of social issues, such as the ageing population or community care, or social problems, for instance, crime, poverty and unemployment; the consideration of particular social groups, such as children or homeless people, or those in isolated rural areas; and examination of the main services: education, health care, housing, personal social services and social security. Given the dynamic nature of the subject, these and other methods are constantly developing. Yet the emphasis has, until recently, continued to lie largely in examinations of policies as responses to problems and demands, and the description and evaluation of those policies, rather than through insights that might emerge from wider consideration of the policy process. This book therefore seeks to present the analysis of the policy process as one means of encouraging a broad approach to the subject matter, drawing upon a wide range of concepts and models that can help us to contextualise, understand and explain developments from a perspective that provides, to some extent, an alternative consideration of the exercise of power in contemporary society.
Catherine Bochel, Hugh M. Bochel

1. Social Policy and Social Policy Analysis

Chapter Overview
This chapter outlines the development of interest in social policy analysis and the benefits to our understanding that can arise from this approach. In particular, changes that occurred under the Conservatives from 1979 to 1997 are highlighted in order to provide a setting against which developments under Labour since 1997 can be better analysed and understood. The variety of meanings and interpretations of terms such as ‘social policy’ and ‘policy analysis’ are outlined as a background to the core of the book, whilst links, overlaps and differences with the analysis of public policy are also examined. A number of intellectual challenges to the subject that have emerged from the 1980s onwards are discussed.
Catherine Bochel, Hugh M. Bochel

2. Perspectives on Policy Making

Chapter Overview
This chapter begins with a general discussion of policy and decision making. It then considers why it is that we use models to explain aspects of policy making, before moving on to consider the process of agenda-setting and a number of models themselves, including rational and incremental decision making and models of the influence of bureaucracies. The way in which these perspectives inform our understanding of the making and implementation of social policy are discussed. In addition, this chapter emphasises the importance of implementation in the social policy process and the impact which implementation can have on the outcomes of social policies. Theoretical perspectives such as the top-down model, the role of ‘lower level actors’ and the problems of implementation are covered, whilst the variety of factors that can affect the implementation of policies are highlighted.
Catherine Bochel, Hugh M. Bochel

3. Power and Policy

Chapter Overview
This chapter examines a number of what might loosely be termed ‘theories of power’ that are relevant to analysing and explaining social policy making in contemporary Britain. This includes a variety of interpretations including pluralism, corporatism, Marxist and public choice interpretations. Concepts such as elites and elite theory are also discussed. The sources of power in social policy making will be perceived differently depending upon the theory adduced. Implications of these perspectives for the making and implementation of social policy are therefore considered.
Catherine Bochel, Hugh M. Bochel

4. Central Government

Chapter Overview
Central government is arguably the most important determinant of social policy, both through its direct legislative and policy-making functions and through its ability to influence social policy in other ways, both direct, such as fiscal controls, and less direct, such as emphasising particular goals. This chapter discusses the variety of influences upon social policy making at the central government level, including ministers and the executive, the civil service and Parliament and their ability to make and control policy. The increased role of the judiciary and judicial mechanisms in recent years is considered as a developing factor in social policy.
Catherine Bochel, Hugh M. Bochel

5. Multi-Level Governance

Chapter Overview
The concept of multi-level governance is one that in some respects is relatively new to the United Kingdom, but which developments over the last two decades have made particularly relevant. This chapter commences with an examination of the role and impact of the European Union on social policy. It then moves on to consider one of the clearest areas of radical change under the 1997 Labour government: the rapid move to devolve power to Scotland and Wales, as well as to Northern Ireland, with potentially significant implications for the future development of social policy. Finally, despite what has been recognised as a continual erosion of local government powers and services since 1979, local government remains important in the planning and provision of many welfare services. This chapter therefore considers the place of local government in social policy and the influences upon it, including the burden of legislation and control imposed by central government, the diminution of the role of local government in the delivery of social policy and the growing involvement of elected members and the role of officers.
Catherine Bochel, Hugh M. Bochel

6. Quasi-Government

Chapter Overview
Quasi-government is important for social policy because it is responsible for delivering many welfare services — National Health Service trusts, much of health education, housing through housing associations, education through grantmaintained schools, benefits through the Benefits Agency, the Child Support Agency, and so on — as well as having a major role in areas such as urban regeneration and employment through organisations such as training and enterprise councils and urban development corporations. The role of quasigovernment in social policy arguably increased significantly under the Conservative administrations of 1979–97 and continues to have a major role under the Labour government. But what is quasi-government and does it have implications for social policy? This chapter considers the role and rationale for quasi-government, together with a range of important associated issues such as accountability, control, scrutiny and the politicisation of quasi-government.
Catherine Bochel, Hugh M. Bochel

7. Participation

Chapter Overview
This chapter addresses ‘participation’ in a broad sense. Concepts such as participation, involvement and empowerment have been important social policy issues for some time and are likely to remain so. This chapter examines the processes and pitfalls for participation for individuals and groups as well as the mechanisms by which government and social policy agencies attempt to encourage or reduce participation. The modes of participation for users, citizens and groups will be examined, together with their impact upon the processes of policy making and implementation.
Catherine Bochel, Hugh M. Bochel

8. Evaluation

Chapter Overview
Whilst the influences upon the making of social policy are widely recognised, the evaluation of social policy is under-discussed. Evaluation is an important part of the policy process and links to many of the topics in this book. This chapter discusses why there is a need for policy evaluation, methods and techniques of policy evaluation and monitoring, the problems of evaluation, and the commissioning, consumption and evaluation of evaluations. It also covers related issues and concepts such as policy transfer.
Catherine Bochel, Hugh M. Bochel

9. Conclusions

Chapter Overview
This book has set out to examine the range of influences on the processes of making, implementing and formulating social policy and the exercise of power. Developments during the Conservative governments from 1979 to 1997 and under Labour since 1997 have reflected many of these influences. This chapter outlines some of the lessons that can be learnt from the examination of the policy process.
Catherine Bochel, Hugh M. Bochel
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