Contemporary Issues in Social Policy Essay

Strength and welfare of a society depends largely on the extent to which government and social institutions care for their most vulnerable members. Under certain circumstances, people with a learning disability, particularly those who experience severe complications are considered the most vulnerable focus group of the British society.

There is convincing evidence that people with disabilities are less likely to receive sufficient support and care regardless the Disability Discrimination Act and other legislatures that has been established in the country. The highlighted problems reveal serious pitfalls in delivering equal treatment, sustaining high quality of care practice, and problems with funding plans that have specifically been worked out for disabled children and adults.

In addition to these problems, society experiences such problems as income inequality and poverty contributing to extremely low standards of living. As a result, failure to adhere to legislative act supporting the quality standards of public health case, as well as inability of the government to cope with the societal problems provides a strong framework for discussion.

The emergent problems need to be addressed from the perspective of treating the most vulnerable members of society, as well as define to what extent the unemployment rates and low-income rates influence the accomplishment of social polices in Britain.

Development of Social Policy and Welfare in Contemporary Britain

In the context of the above-highlighted problems, the public care and social policies in Britain are under the primary focus. Evidence shows that many hospitals lack sufficient care and training programs that would make health care available for regardless of social status and physical abilities.

However, the contemporary situation fails to meet the established goals due to the insufficient funding, and lack of consistent action plan, and absence of specialized orientation for treating old people, as well as adults with learning disabilities. Despite the establishment of many social programs, such as Valuing People, much concern with social welfare in the country remains. According to the Valuing People program, health care professionals as well as public officer should follow three main principles.

First, they should assist the most vulnerable members of society in leading an independent life. Second, they should respect people’s rights, regardless of their social position and income. Finally, they should provide people with choice in terms of the type of care they need to get (The Secretary of State for Health by Command of Her Majesty, 2001).

For certain reasons, some of the hospitals, particularly the establishment located in Cornwall failed to provide sufficient care and treatment to people with learning disabilities (Healthcare Commission, 2006). The investigation has also revealed the case of maltreatment and abuse practiced by poorly trained professionals.

Such a situation has been caused by serious pitfalls in human resource management on the part of the top leaders of the hospital. In addition, lack of plans of care does not provide professionals with accurate data concerning which tools and instruments should be used to cope with people with specific needs (Healthcare Commission, 2006). Moreover, lack of records, as well as full mismatch with Valuing People program enabled the investigators to introduce solid measure to prevent the problem in future.

The root of the problem goes deeply into the historic background of social policy formation. Specifically, the committee on Social Insurance and Allied Services (SIAS) introduced a survey on the analysis of existing social schemes tackling the problems of workmen’s compensation, social security, social insurance, and provisional rates (Beveridge, 1942).

At this point, Workmen Compensation Act of 1897 and Unemployment Act of 1934 need to be reconsidered with regard to the result obtained from the survey (Beveridge, 1942). Specific attention was also given to the analysis of medical treatment development, welfare of children, cash benefits for funerals and maternity, and voluntary provisions for a range of contingencies.

The above-presented historical background provides a better picture of necessary improvements, changes, and programs that need to be implemented in the future. Careful reconsideration of healthcare polices and public welfare strategies are indispensible to increasing the quality of living standards.

The Policy Environment in Which Decision Making in Care Practice Takes Place

Introducing new policy environments changes health care vision on the welfare of the public sector. Hence, because public influence on governmental polices in Britain is minimal, the policy environment is largely controlled by the political reforms introduced in the British Parliament (Kavanagh et al., 2006, p. 3).

Within these context, the emergence of pressure group have provided a key platform by means of which civil society is able to participate in political discourse and influence decision making. The so-called liberal democracy prevailed in the British society creates a number of contradictions.

First, interest groups offer a channel of political communication between society and government. Second, the groups can be connected with sectionalism that does not contribute to the general welfare of society (Kavanagh et al., 2006). Despite the presented controversy, the presence of pressure groups signifies the inability of the government to meet the needs and concerns of various social groups. Therefore, the emerged confrontation influences significantly the overall decision making in the sphere of health care practice.

Regardless of the current pitfalls, the presence of various interest groups allows the government tracks the changes within the society and introduces reforms that would improve the overall situation. This is of particular concern to health care practice where active engagement of insider groups into decision-making makes the government take these interventions while making policies in a particular field (Kavanagh et al., 2006, p. 8).

Hence, insider groups constitute an important resource for good information, as well as a basis for good administrative cooperation between health care field and the British government. In addition, because pressure groups operate at national and local levels, the authorities often rely on their concerns and try to identify the issues that can solve the problem.

The policy environment created as mixture of governmental and public initiatives is quite complicated due to the presence of various aspects, such as public objectives, functions and roles, and the extent of political participation at a particular level (Kavanagh et al. 2006).

Apart of positive benefits of the emergence of pressure groups, as well as governmental participation, the policy decisions often produce a number of problems. Specifically, a narrow-focused orientation on increasing the income of the citizens does not provide the country with sufficient level of living.

The Link between Legislative Development and Social Policy and Their Impact on Care Practice

To introduce improvement in administrative field and public sectors, the UK government has a complex system of stage of parliamentary bill. These stages are imperative for considering and evaluating the purposefulness of a specific policy (House of Commons Information Office, 2008).

Because the House of Commons is a democratically elected wing of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, “the purpose of pre-legislative scrutiny is…to make better law by improving the scrutiny of bills and drawing the wider public more effectively into the Parliamentary process” (House of Commons Information Office 2008, p. 3). The process of Bill presentation and acceptance also takes places in the House of Lords (2008).

Both procedures are pivotal because they have a potent impact on the development of legislature in the sphere of care practice as well. The scrutiny of the parliament bill adoption has also been applied to the consideration of The Health and Social Care Bill that aims to protect future of the National Health Service in the United Kingdom and cope with the challenges it experiences to avoid the current problems and surpass the consequences of future crisis (Department of Health 2011).

In addition, the Bill seeks to introduce innovations, develop a patient-centred approach and establish a new focus on health care in the public sector. As it can be seen, a systematic and multistage examination of specific principles creates favourable conditions for issuing bills in care practice field.

On the one hand, the complex procedures implemented in the UK Parliament introduce transparency and consistency in adopting decisions in various areas of public health care. On the other hand, the government often pursues personal interests in passing specific legal provisions. Besides, the legal assistance has undergone the change which makes it challengeable for advice agencies and solicitors to deliver free services.

In this respect, there is a strong necessity to improve and promote access to civil legal assistance. Despite certain measures were taken to solve the problem, the sectors still needs substantial improvements to ensure wider accessibility of the civil legal services (p. 16). Due to the fact that the legal aid service has been practiced for 60 years, constant changes are indispensible for sustaining a favourable development of health care services, as well as advancing the quality standards in medical institutions.

With regard to the above-highlighted problems, the government should present a new vision for reforming public services and creating a consistent framework of high quality social care that would meet the requirements of the current century. The shits in communities and populations imply that society become much more diverse and, therefore, the existing services should take that into the deepest consideration the demands of the contemporary people.

The Role of the Theoretical Approaches to Welfare in Determining the Shape of Care in the 21st Century

The social welfare of society can be achieved through the establishment of efficient theoretical approaches that would provide a framework for action plans. The development of social theories takes it roots in the nineteenth century, when Marx made signification contributions to exploring political and economic situations leading to poverty, high unemployment, and social inequalities (Carling, 1991).

According to Marx, the inequality lies in the extraction of the surplus value from the product produced by the employees. In fact, the employer is entitled for the creating the value and, therefore, the surplus value they get is theft unless it is distributed among the employees.

Therefore, capitalistic system does not contribute to social equality and welfare. In order to reach the freedom and equality, there should be an equal distribution of function among the people where labour power should be given especial importance. Looking at the future development, capitalism does not provide efficient approaches contributing to the welfare of the twenty first century’s society.

Within the perspectives of the modern development, the functionalism theory can be developed. Greater awareness of social roles that each person should take can strengthen the social structure and provide a consistent framework for building a highly functional society. Considering culturally and social diverse environments is indispensible for defining which roles and functions should each social layer perform to bring in welfare to the twenty-first century’s community in the United Kingdom.

The current problems can be solved by addressing this theoretical approach because it can significantly enhance the work incentives and make the overall social system much simpler (The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 2010). In addition, increasing costs of governmental support has a negative impact on maintaining welfare and sustaining an appropriate level of care in the public sector.

There are many reasons why functionalism can be effectively applied to improve the above-highlighted problems. To begin with, defining the accurate roles of each social stratum can introduce social order and transparency in making decision and increasing the overall quality of care in the majority of UK hospitals.

With regard to the problem of insufficient funding and lack of education in Cornwall hospitals, the establishment of functionalism theory with the division of labour principle at the core can help the managers understand the problems and take greater control of the existing shortcoming, including maltreatment, abusive attitude to disabled individuals, inappropriate education.

Introducing the so-called collective consciousness and an individual-centred approach to treating patient can strike the balance between personal interest and the interest of the entire community.

The collective behaviour can create shared value consensus that would satisfy all the parties involved into social welfare creation. Health care professionals will gain a greater awareness of the importance of responsibilities they should take in front of the patients with learning disabilities.

A properly arranged social system will make the individuals believe that their duties are accomplished for the sake of their personal interests. At the same time, their contributions will be valuable for the gradual development of the UK society. In addition, members of society should be able to adapt to the various environments, attain to a commonly shared goal, integrate into the goals accomplishment and follow the generally established values.


The quality of health care delivery services in the United Kingdom fails to meet high quality standards established in the world. This is of particular concern to the hospitals dealing with patients with learning disabilities. The group of patients should be able to receive an equal access to public care, which means that should receive qualified and specialized help from the health care professionals that should be much more advanced than those provided for people with ability to lead an independent life.

The major problem lies in insufficient funding, absence of appropriate recording system, lack of education and training programs for the staff, and absence of action plans. In order to solve these problems, specific legal regulations, as well as theoretical approach should be introduced. At this point, functionalism framework can significantly promote the social welfare in the 21st century.

Reference List

Beveridge, W 1942, Social Insurance and Allied Services, His Majesty Stationery Office, London.

Carling, A. H. 1991, Social Division, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Citizens, Advice Service 2009, Social Policy Impact Report 2009, Citizens Advice Bureau, pp. 1-15.

Department of Health 2011, Overview of Health Care Bill, pp. 1-2.

Healthcare Commission 2006, Joint Investigation into Services for People with Learning Disabilities at Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust, Commission for Healthcare Adult and Inspection. pp. 1-17.

House of Commons Information Office 2008, Parliamentary Stages of a Governmental Bill, Factsheet L1 Legislation Series. pp. 3-14.

House of Lords 2008, Bills and How They Become Law, House of Lords Briefing, pp. 2-6.

Kavanagh, D, Richards, D, Geddes, A, and Smith, M 2006, “Pressure Groups and Policy Networks”, In D Kavanagh, D Richards, A Geddes, and M Smith, British Politics. Oxford University Press, UK.

The Secretary of State for Health by Command of Her Majesty 2000, Valuing People: A New Strategy for Learning Disability for the 21st Century. Department of Health, Britain, pp. 1-149.

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 2010, 21st Century Welfare, Department for Work and Pensions, pp. 1-52.

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