Social Policy Report on Child Poverty in Wales and the Uk

Topics: Wales, Poverty, United Kingdom Pages: 10 (3488 words) Published: August 26, 2013
Social Policy Report on Child Poverty in Wales and the UK
Introduction
In the UK, particularly in England and Wales, children’s life chances are determined by the economic status of the families into which they are a part of. Children from poor households are more likely to suffer the consequences of their families’ condition. They will have to endure the stigma of poverty in a profoundly lopsided society where the socioeconomic standing of individuals is determined by their capacity to buy. These poor children also have less access to quality educational opportunities (Welbourne, 2012). Furthermore, children living in poverty at present are likely to remain poor for the rest of their lives because of intergenerational cycles of poverty (Fitzgerald & Kay, 2008). It is within this wider perspective that this essay analyses child welfare services in the UK, particularly in Wales. The essay begins by providing a brief overview of the historical influences, ideological framework, and organisation and delivery of child welfare services in the UK. It afterwards presents an overview of the nature and level of child poverty in the region and a comprehensive analysis of the efforts of the UK government and the Welsh Assembly Government to address the problem. Historical Influences

Since the beginning of the welfare state, concern for child poverty by consecutive UK administrations has varied. Even though rates of child poverty in the earlier period were comparatively low in comparison to the current period, issues were raised with regard to whether the Beveridge approach—health care services are provided and funded through taxes, also called ‘socialised medicine model’—was sufficient to safeguard children from economic instability (Walker, 1999, p. 155). In the 1980s and 1990s, the rates of child poverty increased dramatically, manifesting high rates of unemployment and instability in international economy. Much expectation and optimism arose during the introduction of the UK Labour Government in 1997. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair backed up this expectation in 1999 in his speech (Waldfogel, 2010, p. 34): “Our historic aim will be for ours to be the first generation to end child poverty”. National objectives were eventually formulated. There was a programme to cut down the rate of poverty by 2005 and to eliminate child poverty completely by 2020 (Bevan Foundation, 2010, p. 30). In the meantime, in Wales, there was general advocacy or this motivation and determination to address child poverty. The former Minister for Children reconfirmed the stance of the Welsh Assembly Government in 2004: “The Welsh Assembly Government strongly believes that child poverty should be eradicated within a generation” (Bevan Foundation, 2010, p. 30). The One Wales Agreement (2007), according to Winckler (2009), by the current coalition government reaffirms the objective of eliminating child poverty and a commitment to enhance the quality of life of the poorest in Wales. The delivery of child welfare services in the UK is generally assigned to the Department for Education, which provides constitutional and non-constitutional direction to local officials. Local officials apply this direction to generate their own guidelines which must be followed by professionals who work with poor children in that specific local jurisdiction (Lewis, 2008). The Director of Children’s Services (DCS) is officially responsible for the provision of child welfare services (Fitzgerald & Kay, 2008, p. 38).Hence the delivery of child welfare services in the UK is largely the responsibility of the state. The Ideological Framework

The New Labour government has focused mostly on child welfare services and initiated a broad array of new programmes such as Sure Start, to deliver comprehensive services for poor children; the Children’s Fund to encourage charitable efforts to address child poverty; and the National Child Care Strategy intended to provide appropriate, inexpensive...

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