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Charges and Means Tests

  • Peggy Foster
Chapter
Part of the Studies in Social Policy book series (STUDSOPO)

Abstract

Universalists, such as Titmuss and Townsend, have consistently condemned the use of charges and means tests in the welfare sector. This may explain why so many students of social policy dismiss out of hand all arguments in favour of selective welfare provision and why little empirical research has been carried out into consumers’ reactions to the use of charges and means-testing. The consequences of their use have tended to be assumed rather than proved. Yet taken at face value much of the selectivists’ case in favour of charges and means tests makes good sense. It is difficult to deny, for example, the logic of concentrating scarce welfare resources on those otherwise unable to obtain help. Indeed universalists do not deny that the only way to ensure that the social services redistribute welfare to the poor is to positively discriminate in their favour. Supporters of the NHS and compulsory state education now accept that the relatively affluent have tended to get more out of them than the poor and deprived. According to Brian Abel-Smith, ‘The main effect of the post war development of the social services has been to provide free social services to the middle classes.’1 Universalists, however, reject consumer charges combined with means tests as the answer to this problem.

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Copyright information

© Peggy Foster 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peggy Foster
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Social AdministrationUniversity of ManchesterUK

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