Lister (2006, p.316) states that ‘Children emerged as key figures in New Labour’s nascent ‘social investment state’. Using this statement as your starting point, analyse and evaluate government policy to tackle child poverty and child abuse.
This essay aims to outline and discuss UK social policy in regards to child poverty and child abuse since New Labour’s election in 1997 to present day coalition government. It will analyse and evaluate the effectiveness of political strategies undertaken by both forms of government and consider its observance of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The end of the reign of Coalition government from 1997, left with it a range of issues which the newly elected New Labour government considered serious and of focal relevance in emerging policy. Of the most central they claimed to address, was the issue of child poverty which saw an extraordinary increase in the 1990’s, with more than 1 in 4 households in relative poverty seeing one-quarter to one-third of the children population in poverty by 1997 (JRF, 2010). The UK effectively had the worst rate of child poverty in Europe. New labour recognised how poverty was an inter-linked issue, leading to things such as social-exclusion, a driving force to later detriments for the child in emotional and behavioural outcomes and physical health as well as school achievement. Children were branded the “future” and investing in their well-being would see society reaping the fruits in later society. New labour took on an ambitious objective, by which they would cut relative child poverty by one-quarter to a third by years 2004-05 and eradicate child poverty completely by the year 2020. The prospect of such an objective would involve major changes in policy that would undoubtedly bring about a shift in social standards set place by former coalition government; the notion of this was not alien to new labour, with Prime Minister Tony Blair pledging progress through “radical reform” and pledging to increase government expenditure on children by more than £6 billion (BBC, 1999). New labour set out 3 key elements they planned to tackle in order to battle poverty- this would involve stimulating people into work, increasing governmental support for families and communities and investing in children in the early years to break the cycle of poverty. The government introduced the concept of the ‘social investment state’, putting social welfare at the pinnacle of its policy with intensive intervention and prevention programmes, aimed at the most disadvantaged in communities. This would provide various support services designed to identify and prevent problems from emerging, and tackle them before their escalation. Aids were introduced such as the Sure Start initiative which aimed at giving children from deprived families the best start at life and were based on the ideology of a ‘joined-up’ thinking approach; this aimed to achieve optimum outcomes for children through various services such as health, education, family support and childcare collectively working together. The initiative prioritized children in impoverished and disadvantaged areas in which poverty flourished: ‘They are concentrated in neighbourhoods where a high proportion of children are living in poverty and where sure start local programmes can help them to succeed by pioneering new ways of working to improve services’ (Frost et al, p115, 2009). The Sure start initiative aimed to achieve this through adopting sure start local programmes (SSLPs) which were launched in 1999. These programmes were area-based to organise and provide services tailored to the area in need. Areas covered by the initiative amounted to 250 initially, but further announcements by the government in 2000 aimed to double the number to 5000 seeing an increase in expenditure on children as promised by the government. Despite the good intentions of such local approaches, there were indeed...
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