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How Successful Has The Welfare State Been In Delivering Equality?

2288 words - 9 pages

The majority of those who have a reasonably satisfactory understanding of the welfare state will agree that the definition entails; a nation whereby the government undertake appropriate action to ensure the provision of social goods and benefits. These welfare programs are usually provided at public expense with little or no cost to the recipient of the services. Policy prescriptions advanced by proponents of the welfare state emphasise securing a minimum standard of living for all of the population where no one is denied an essential service which might be available to others. This includes the production of social goods and services, the control of the business cycle and the manipulation of total output to allow for social costs and revenues. In Britain and certainly most other European countries the term `welfare state' has acquired a broad meaning. Here, the policy areas most concerned with the term `welfare' are; income security, health, social housing, education and the personal social services. The reason as to why these five services have been integrated into the definition of the welfare state in the united kingdom is indistinct, yet `seems to be based on the notion that these services share a common orientation towards meeting individual needs' (Taylor-Gooby and Dale, 1981: 3, Goodin, 1988: 11).

Policies for equality can vary depending on many factors, however, there are three main types that policies for equality can aim at. Equality of treatment involves treatment without bias, prejudice or special circumstances applying to people. Equal opportunity can be the opportunity to compete, or the chance to compete on the same footing as others. Equality of outcome refers to the idea that resources are provided so that everyone is equal subsequent to a service being provided.
With inequalities which are concerned with removing disadvantage in outcome. In order for the welfare state to be successful at delivering equality among the population the preceding factors must first be achieved.

In order for educational equality to be attempted, financial barriers separating those who can afford educational fees and those who cannot must be minimised or removed. If everyone is entitled to the same opportunity of education then, equality can be sought after. This was apparent during the period 1974-1979, where it was recognised that a redistribution of educational resources towards girls, women and minority groups as well as towards the working class is required. Thus, aiming at giving everyone the same opportunity for an education. Contained in the 1998 Human Rights Act is an authoritative statement which is essential for the basis of equality. It states that `no person shall be denied the right to education', although a rather basic statement, it provides the basis for equality of opportunity which is essential since education is an investment on behalf of the wider society.

The 1944 Education Act contained the idea of...

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