Social Policy Essay
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Demonstrate an understanding of the historical and ideological developments of UK social policy, identifying the underpinning principles and values.
Social policy is defined as actions aimed at promoting social well being (Alcock). It is not just about state legislation but also about what the government does to support and interfere with the well being of citizens. Policies can be regarded as embodying ideas about society, the economy and views about justice, equality and individual responsibility (Alcock). Social policy as a whole looks at the rules and procedures made by the government to keep the publics best interests at heart.
The social policy that is being focused on is Healthcare. In the early 1940’s a report was written by a man called William Beveridge, highlighting problems in society. Ever since then, this social policy has been subject to changes and reforms made by each political party in their time of running. Healthcare as a whole has a huge impact on it’s service users as well as it’s service workers and I believe it to be one of the most important social policies.
In 1942, Beveridge published a report recommending ways that the government could improve post war Britain. He stated that they should begin by tackling the 5 Giant Evils : Want, Squalor, Disease (Health), Ignorance and Idleness. This led to many social reforms and in 1945 when the labour party was elected into power, Clement Atlee was made priminister. This proved to be beneficial for the country and resulted in over 200 acts being passed from 1945 to 1948. One of the acts passed was the National Health Service act passed by the minister for health Aneurin Bevan. He wanted to make sure that every citizen could access the best medical care when they needed it and for it to be free at the point of use. The aim of the NHS was to reduce ill-health and promote good health in all citizens. Between high infant mortality rates and general poor health of the public he knew actions had to be taken.
Before the NHS, the 2,700 hospitals were either run by charities or local authorities with only those in employment entitled to free treatment. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7405526.stm). Prior to the actual start of the NHS, many of the working doctors shared a conservative and neoliberal ideology about this new act. They believe that a government run health service would take away the individuality of their profession and make them ‘puppets of the state’. The conservative party shared these views as well as the British Medical Association, who started a survey voting against the NHS.
Conservative politicians had a very right wing approach to things, believing in social hierarchy and believed social inequality to be inevitable. The labour party adopted a collectivist way of thinking. They focused more on those who were disadvantaged and devised ways to improve it which resulted in the introduction of the NHS in 1948. On the 5th July 1948 the NHS was introduced and resulted in free healthcare for UK citizens. In addition it created a mass amount of jobs in the healthcare sector. The Election of Clement Atlee in 1945 proved to be beneficial and resulted in over 200 acts being passed from 1945 to 1948 as well as the NHS act.
In 1979 Margaret Thatcher led the conservative party into power. The conservative party shared right wing, neoliberal ideas about the way things were being run. As an individualistic ideology neo liberalism was very much pro market and against public provision and involvement of the state. Thatcher and the conservatives believed that collectivism and free welfare services encouraged lazy people to become dependant on the government.