The British Welfare State: Development and Challenges

  • Tom Burden


In this chapter I examine key phases in the development of social policy and look at their impact on the subsequent establishment of the welfare state. The phases considered are the Tudor Poor Law, the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, the new liberalism of the Edwardian period, and the Second World War. The Keynesian welfare state was subsequently challenged by welfare pluralism, communitarianism, Marxism, feminism and environmentalism, as well as by neo-liberalism. The subsequent rise of New Labour involved strong neo-liberal elements in its policies on work, education and training for work, managerialism, and poverty, inequality and social exclusion. The Third Way is shown as resting on fragile foundations and as lacking ideological coherence. It is argued that this weakness might be resolved through a scheme of basic income, and it will be seen that the approach of New Labour is likely to create a ‘wage earners welfare state’ in which minorities of various kinds are marginalized. Some of the arguments in this chapter have been developed at more length elsewhere.


Social Policy Social Exclusion Social Inclusion State Apparatus Welfare Provision 
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Copyright information

© Tom Burden 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tom Burden
    • 1
  1. 1.Leeds Metropolitan UniversityUK

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