Policy Press, 2006, xii + 322 pp, pbk, 1 86134 856 8, £22.99.
The distinction between cash benefits and care has begun to break down as people with disabilities are now being given cash to enable them to pay for personal assistants. Similarly, parents are now being more firmly encouraged to enter or remain in the labour market, and after-school and breakfast clubs and government subsidies for childcare are becoming a normal part of a child’s life. In a parallel development, residential care is becoming a more normal option for elderly family members as family members remain in the labour market rather than give up their jobs to look after elderly parents.
The chapters of this book started life as conference papers, and in a short review it is impossible to discuss in depth the content of all nineteen of them; but of particular interest to readers of this Newsletter will be Jane Lewis’s summary of changes in the family, the labour market and the welfare state (pp.12ff), Jan Pahl’s discussion concerning to whom benefits should be paid (pp.58ff), Pernille Hohnen’s chapter on individualisation and marketisation as policy trends (pp.79ff), Hilary Arksey and Peter Kemp on carers and employment in a work-focused welfare state (pp.111ff), Caroline Glendinning on different ways of paying carers (pp.127ff), Jane Millar on work and welfare for lone mothers (which identifies lack of income security during the transition from benefits to employment as a problem) (pp.171ff), and Jenny Morris on the funding of independent living for people with disabilities (pp.235ff).
The overwhelming impression given by the papers is of rapid change: in the ways in which we as a society organise care for vulnerable groups, in employment patterns, in our expectations of parents, and in parents’ expectations of themselves. What is required is income security in the midst of all this change. Whilst tax credits looked like an answer, they have in fact become part of the problem (pp.177ff). Child Benefit, however, gets a good press (pp.59, 177), particularly in relation to its role in contributing to income security for women.