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Social policy is about social well-being and its policies are designed to promote this, social well-being is for everyone and it’s to ensure that everyone gets treated impartially and according to their needs. This may include areas such as housing, education and social care. According to the HM Treasury’s spending review 2010-11 the vast majority of money was spent on Welfare and Health this illustrates that these two sectors especially welfare are major factors within our society and are a priority. However some political ideology can have impact on social policy in regards to how money is spent and in what ways.
Social welfare and policy is provided by the government and social policies are developed for the public and certain groups who need them. Social welfare on the other hand is given to people who are seen to be in need and may be seen as people who need a public service. Welfare services and healthcare are the key services in social policy. Social services and the healthcare system are in place and are provided to give a service to help aid with people’s well-being. For example these include people who are going through a crisis or serious personal issues to do with their health or personal lives. Social policy is incorporated with social welfare provision; social welfare provision is about the needs of the people. The government plays a big part in social welfare because they decide on what to spend on such as housing and education. Social Policy is made by the government which are made up of party’s politicians and parties that deliberate and decide on how to manage the country and its political needs. Politically speaking Social policies work together with employees of social welfare such as social workers as well as healthcare and the law. All these organisations help to make up social policy and work on and for the state. Local Government are councillors which have been locally elected for example a local MP and also local authorities, these may include people such as school governors and members of the community health councils, these selected people work together to govern and implement what key policies are needed locally, and these are tailored policies specifically for their local communities. The local government may make decisions on housing and other local factors such as developments that may be needed and transport. The private sector is made up of businesses individuals, local and central government who purchase welfare services such as private care homes and employ carers privately to care for service users. Social workers as well as the healthcare workers are involved in social policy for the reason that they will be putting whatever is decided in social policy in practice. Central government is the political party who is elected nationally in the UK. At the last national election the conservative party were voted in with this came their own political ideology in running the country and many changes were made.
Political Ideology is a range of ideas and thoughts which can range from social wellbeing to laws being made it is also beliefs on society and social welfare. This can come from a right left wing approach of thinking politically. This affects social policy and how social policy is approached because the decisions that is made effects people’s lives. For example when new labour was elected in 1997 its approach to social policy was a mix and right and left wing perspectives. The new right perspectives to social policy consist of views such as distinguishing between the deserving and underserving poor. What is known as the deserving poor are those who are thought to deserve to receive welfare, an example of this is someone being poor through no fault of their own, while an undeserving poor is someone who may be poor due to their laziness such as not wanting to work. The title of deserving and undeserving varies from one individual to another, this is because everyone’s circumstances are different therefore it is harder to determine who is deserves to receive benefits from who does not. The new right approach suggests that the welfare system was making people depend on benefits and making them lazy. This was also referred to as the nanny state, however those who are welfare such as single parent families struggle and what is given is actually only enough to live on because benefits are accessed on what the government believes is enough for individuals to live off. David Cameron the current Prime minister stated that he wanted to “end the “culture of entitlement” and a bigger debate into welfare would be needed as the wrong signals were being sent out to unmarried and single parent families. This suggests even more cuts for those who are dependent on benefits as a way to get people off benefits and back into employment. Political ideology affects social work because these values affect practice. Ideas of political ideology shape practice and action, these actions can also influence ideas of ideologues which respond to the environmental pressures which surround them. (Marquand 1996,6.)
Marxist had the view that the welfare state was biased and favours the working class to prevent a revolution. For the modern day welfare state this couldn’t be any truer as we have seen with the conservative’s party that the biggest spending cuts have hit the poor the worst.it seems as though especially to those who are worse off, for example families who receive benefits such as tax credits etc. These are the people who are feeling the cuts the most while the rich have had far fewer cuts being made. Last year we saw that most of the changes being made were affecting the poor and working class the most, while the rich had their tax reduced. This is indeed an unfair change in regards to welfare because the changes seem to favour the rich more. The Guardian newspaper online reported that the poorest households would be hit the worst by benefits cuts, in reported government plans and the Department of Work and Pensions. It also stated that in a bid to save 3.1 billion working benefits would rise to 1% hitting the poor hardest.
The guardian online featured a letter by MP Michael Meacher who pointed out that the recent welfare benefits reports bill and its percentages on cuts leaving the rich richer by paying less percentages in tax while the unemployed receiving benefits such as the job seekers allowance were being cut. It also argued ministers had failed to realise that the 20% cut that was going to be imposed would work out as less money for people to live on. The cut was argued to be applied because it was seen to be unfair that those unemployed had had a 20% rise while the lowest paid only had a 10% pay rise. Even so those who are in less paid jobs are still financially better off than those on JSA, so again why are cuts being made to the poorest people in need. It was also pointed out that the richest that are on over £3000 a year had their income tax cut to almost 3bn a year, also the very richest increased their income and wealth over the last year according to the Sunday Times Rich List. With cuts being made and bills rising how is people going to afford to eat and live? There is a struggle for the currently unemployed to get back in employment due to the lack of jobs. People are being pressured into either living a very poor life financially or working for wage which they may again struggle to live on and then being given a very low pension when they retire. This affects social work practice because more people will be in crisis and in a vulnerable state which may lead to intervention by professionals such as social workers being needed for well-being and support.
The cuts to social care have seen only the ones who can afford to pay for care being able to receive care. The reason for this is budgets being cut for social care leaving those without financial security in need of support. According to ADASS in their budget survey (2011) councils were reducing their budgets by 991 million. They were also reducing their spending by 169 million for support for people. The implications and consequences of these cuts are that some council will have to make cutbacks to services in order to balance out their budgets. For those who cannot afford services this can serious implications as well as on impact on social work practice because of the intervention that may be needed. It also affects social work in the sense of how it is implicated as well as using the best methods for service users. According to this survey it increases more gaps within Social Care funding. The care and Support Bill 2012 abolished the local authorities’ right to remove a person in need from their homes. The reason for this could do with the cuts being made with in social care and as a way to save money have abolished this to save funding which would otherwise be spent on giving care to service users.
The Just umbrella gives an insight into austerity the coalition and policy. The just umbrella pinpoints many actions the government at the moment and the way in which society is handled in regards to spending welfare etc. It also talks about the London riots and how they may have been an underlying factor as to why the riots took place. The riots stemmed from a man of ethnic minority who was shot and killed by the police, as a result the family wanted answers as to what happened and as to why their family member was shot. There was many speculation as to if the victim was armed or not or whether it was to do with racism. A peaceful march began by the family demanding answers which soon escalated to the riots. The riots were blamed on gang culture and people taking advantage of an unfortunate situation. However nothing of unfair treatments of people and tension between the youths and the police were addressed. The riots may have been a cry for help and that may have been the chance for many more deprived members of society to have their say. Also the riots may have been due to frustrations built up as well as other underlying social factors which were not addressed. Such as most of the people who were involved were part of less privileged communities who were worse off in terms of employment and housing. The finding s of the riot research found that over half 59% of rioters were from the 20% most deprived areas in the UK. The riots seem to have had much more of meaning than just that of the shooting of Mark Duggan. According to the Reading the riots report (2011) its findings were very interesting in regards to its contents. The study was to find out what have driven individuals in the riots and who were responsible of which came these findings of the analysis. 87% of the people who were interviewed out of 270 said that policing and tensions between the police and public were to blame because of the treatments they had from officers. This shows that policing and public frustrations were indeed key contributing factors as to why the riots happened. This combined with anger and frustrations in regards with the relationship between the police also added more fuel to the riots.
The Blackwell companion to social work, social work and politics focuses on social work and ideology and the role in which social workers have. It argues that social workers have a power struggle with family and service users and these are due to political ideology and that social service and workers are political activists. Both the Just Umbrella the Backwell companion discuss changes and the state moving away from the neo-liberal economics in regards to Labour and Margaret Thatcher’s approach to politics. Both stated that the new right approach to social policy was focused on making the welfare state in particular better in regards for what works. However Blackwell argues that this gives room for politicians to pass difficult subjects to professionals to suggest solutions. The just umbrella also comments on what is known as the Big Society and that of the effects it has on society as well as the coalition policy. According to the Cabinet Office the big society is about giving more power to the people to help improve their lives, Transferring power from Whitehills to Local Communities. While the just umbrella recognises failings in the big Society and its local ideas, Blackwell points out ideology behind this and how it affects social work practice. It aims to put the point across that social work is heavily driven by politics and ideology.” The social worker who claims to be above or beyond politics is one who has denied him or herself access to a set of conceptual tools which are directly necessary to a properly informed conduct in today’s complex world of practice”. What is exactly meant by this statement is that social workers cannot fulfil their full potential of practice without accepting they are a part of politics. Accepting this gives social workers the knowledge and power to practice effective service. This is a matter of opinion however because it takes away from the social workers individual core beliefs. If a social worker does not agree with some aspects of political ideology this does not mean they do not have the tools to properly practice social work.
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