social policy

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  • Created on: 03-06-20 15:21

social policy

social policy refers to the plans and actions of state agencies such as health and social services, the welfare benefits system and schools and other bodies, they are usually based on laws introduced by governments that provide the framework within which these agencies will operate.

- changes to divorce law

Before 1969, one partner had to prove that the other was ‘at fault’ in order to be granted a divorce.

The Divorce Reform Act of 1969 changed this - a marriage could be ended if it had permanently broken down, and neither partner no longer had to prove “fault”. However, if only one partner wanted a divorce, they still had to wait 5 years from the date of marriage to get one. In 1984 this was changed so that a divorce could be granted within one year of marriage.

- child benefit 

The first law to provide child benefit in the UK was passed by the conservative government in August 1946, its aimed at helping parents cope with the cost of bringing up children.

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social policy (2)

- tax breaks for married couples

married couple allowance - everybody can earn £12,500 in a tax year before start paying tax

if one partner isnt earning £12,500 they have an unused personal allowance. they can transfer 10% of the unused allowance to the other partner 

introduced by conservative government (2015)

- universal credit

universal Credit (UC) was introduced in 2013 in an attempt to simplify the welfare system by 'rolling' six means-tested benefits and tax credits into a single monthly payment.

- child protection

the children and families act 2014 takes forward the coalition governments commitment to improve services for vulnerable children and support strong families

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social policy (3)

- maternity, paternity and shared parental leave

Eligible employees can take up to 52 weeks' maternity leave. The earliest that leave can be taken is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth, unless the baby is born early. Employees must take at least 2 weeks after the birth

Introduced in 1975 under the Employment Protection Act

Paternity leave must be taken within a 56 day period which starts either on the date of birth, or at the beginning of the expected week of childbirth, whichever is later, or within 56 days of the adoption placement.

Introduced in 2002 under the Paternity and Adoption Leave Regulations.

Both partners may be able to get Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) if they’re having a baby or adopting a child.

Introduced in 2015

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social policy (4)

- sure start

2010 coalition government introduced sure start, which was targeted at parents and children under the age of four living in the most disadvantaged areas


Introduced by Labour government on5 July 1948. NHS seeks to improve the health and wellbeing of patients, communities and its staff through professionalism, innovation and excellence in care, which is all government funded.

- complusory education and pupil premium

The conservative party passed the Education Act of 1996 made it an obligation on parents to require children to have a full-time education from age 5 to 16.

Pupil Premium was introduced in April 2011 by the coalition government to provide additional funding to help schools

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views on social policy


  • see sociaty as based on value consensus 
  • 'march or progress' view - policies are gradually improving life and society
  • (ronald fletcher 1966) argues the inroduction of health, education and housing policies has led to development of a welfare state that supports the whole family

critic... (feminists) policies often benefit men at the expense of women not all members

new right

  • perspective that opposes state intervention in family life. 
  • criticise many welfare policies for undermiming the familys self-reliance by providing generous benefits - results in a 'dependany culture' (depending on the state to spport their families)
  • (murray 1984) sees benefits as 'perverse incentives' rewarding irresponsible behaviour - e.g. if the state provides to lone mothers, fathers will leave the family

critic... (abbott and wallace 1992) cutting benefits - make people even less self-reliant

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views on social policy


  • social policies only serve ruling class - recommendations for social policies are pointless as only a revolution can solve social problems

liberal feminists

  • policies are bringing about more gender equality
  • e.g. equal pay act 1972/ divorce act 1969/ maternity leave

radical feminists

  • argue patriarchy is so engrained in society that simple policy changes alone are insufficient to bring about gender equality
  • (dunscombe and marsden 1995) argue women suffer from the triple shift
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views on social policy


  • (land 1978) argues that policies often assume the patriarchal family to be the norm
  • feminists identify numerous examples of policies that help to maintain the patriarchal nuclear family;

tax and benefit policies - assume that husbands are the main wage earners, this can make it impossible for wives to claim social benefits

childcare - it is often the woman who takes on this role leaving the male to earn

care for the sick and elderly - its often the women who takes on this role leaving the male to earn 

gender regimes

(Drew’s 1995) concept of ‘gender regimes’ describes how social policies in different countries can either encourage or discourage gender equality in the family.

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