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Citizenship and the Welfare State

Author: Simon Duffy

Without deep roots welfare reform becomes little more than disconnected tinkering to impose a succession of politically fashionable ideas. Absent roots, history restarts with each ministry and fades as a source of guidance and understanding. Context narrows to the technical specifics of allocation and delivery of benefits and services, so language becomes slippery and loses power to disclose cuts, contradictions and compromises in a way that leads to effective action. 

Social rights remain subject to shifting interpretative lenses. Decisions about what to conserve and develop and what to disrupt and discontinue have no constitutional foundation and so policy and practice lurch from one reorganization to the next. When reshuffling is coupled with substantial reduction in funds, energy is consumed by adapting to scarcity, whether by advocacy against cuts or resignation to them.

Attention focuses on meeting the changing demands of one generation after the next of new structures, new rules and new overseers rather than on developing better ways to increase the common wealth by steady progress toward assuring the inclusion of every citizen. In the third publication in our series, The Need for Roots, Simon Duffy argues that active support for equal citizenship is the life giving purpose at the root of the welfare state.


The publisher is the Centre for Welfare Reform.

Citizenship and the Welfare State © Simon Duffy 2016.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher except for the quotation of brief passages in reviews.

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