Policy Press

The making of a welfare class?

Benefit receipt in Britain

By Robert Walker and Marilyn Howard


Sep 27, 2000

Page count

368 pages




234 x 156 mm


Policy Press
The making of a welfare class?

Over the last three decades Britain has witnessed an unprecedented rise in the number of people receiving welfare benefits that has provoked fears of a growing underclass and mass welfare dependency.

The making of a welfare class? provides the first comprehensive analysis of the reasons for this growth and subjects notions of welfare dependency and the underclass to empirical test. It focuses on four principal groups of benefit recipients - children and families, retirement pensioners, disabled people, and unemployed people - and, using important new evidence, explores the relative importance of economic, demographic, institutional and normative factors in the pattern of growth.

The book addresses a phenomenon - growth in benefit recipiency - which is common to all advanced industrial countries and nowhere well understood. As a central focus of government policy and a key development in modern society, the issues explored in the book will therefore be of interest to academics and policy commentators alike.

Written in an accessible style and assuming no prior knowledge, with succinct chapters, elegant summaries and extensive use of graphics, complex arguments appear simple. A comprehensive glossary of technical terms is included. As a result, The making of a welfare class? is compulsory reading for undergraduates and postgraduate students of sociology, social policy and economics and anyone else interested in the development of modern British society and welfare policy.

"Written in an accessible style the book assumes little prior knowledge, gives a detailed comprehensive glossary of technical terms and makes good use of graphs." SCOLAG Legal Journal

"An important and timely contribution." Journal of Social Policy

"...a highly accessible source of infromation about a relatively complex area of social policy, and as such it will appeal not only to the academic audience for which it was intended, but also to welfare rights practitioners and other professionals with an interest in this area." Youth and Policy

"This book challenges the widespread assumption that the rising numbers of social security claimants in Britain in the last quarter of the 20th century have resulted in the development of a 'dependency culture' in the country, by presenting a detailed and dispassionate analysis of the real trends in the benefit caseload. This analysis will be of immense value to those concerned with welfare policy and practice in the UK, and beyond, whether as academics or as policy makers." Pete Alcock

Robert Walker is Professor of Social Policy at the University of Nottingham and was formerly Director of the Centre for Research in Social Policy,

Loughborough University.

Marilyn Howard is an independent researcher and a specialist on disability benefits

Part One: Setting the scene: The conundrum; Taking an overview; Part Two: Benefits for unemployed people: Trends in claimant unemployment; The economy and unemployment; Demography and unemployment; Unemployment institutions; Beliefs, behaviour and unemployment; Understanding trends in unemployment-related benefits; Part Three: Benefits for disabled people: Trends in benefits for disabled people; Beliefs about disability; Institutional factors and disability benefits; Demography and benefits for disabled people; The economy and disability; Understanding the growth in disability benefits; Part Four: Benefits for children and families: Trends in receipt of benefits by children and families; Aspects of the demography of family life; The economy and the family; Beliefs about the family and poverty; Social security provisions for families and children; Reflecting on benefit receipt by families and children; Part Five: Benefits for retirement: Trends in pension receipt; The demography of pensions' growth; Institutional aspects of pension provision; Beliefs, opportunities and retirement behaviour; The economy and pensions provision; Pathways to pensions; Part Six: Towards a welfare class?: Understanding the pattern of caseload growth.

Related Titles