Government Policy On Well-Being

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Government Policy On Well-Being

Government Policy Well-Being

The history of poverty and social exclusion has been a chequered one, with concepts endlessly being redefined and past ideas revisited as the pendulum swings among Right and Left ideologies and among individual and collective responsibilities. In the last two decades, the UK has witnessed the importation of the 'underclass' debate from the USA, a decrease in the application of the concept of 'poverty', and the adoption of the concept of 'social exclusion' from France, with each concept having taken on different definitions for different people depending on their particular political, moral or academic persuasions (Barry, 1999).

Social exclusion has attracted growing attention in contemporary Britain. Although the concept originated in continental Europe it has now entered the government's policy process.

The term 'social exclusion' probably originated in France, where it was used to concern those who slipped through the social insurance system; the socially exuded were those who were administratively excluded by the state (Lenoir 1994, Duffy 1997 cited in Burchardt et al, 1999, p.228).

An individual is socially excluded if:

1. He or she is geographically resident in a society;

2. For reasons beyond his or her control, he or she cannot participate in the normal activities of citizens in society and;

3. He or she would like to participate.

Social exclusion focuses primarily on relational issues; in other words inadequate social participation, lack of social integration and lack of power. On the contrary, poverty is seen as static phenomenon, concerning people's economic situation at one point in time, while social exclusion represents a multi-dimensional perspective focussing on the process that lead to a situation of exclusion and, for that matter, poverty (Burchardt et al, 1999, p.229).

Poverty and social exclusion are both concepts that concern social disadvantages of either individuals or groups of people. However, they are very divergent sets of concepts. Poverty is concerned with the lack of resources at the distribution of an individual or a household. The primary concern of poverty is lack of money. Poverty is criticized for its one-dimensionality and narrowness, as it only covers the economic factor of social disadvantage. Social exclusion provides us with a more multidimensional perspective for analysing the lives of the disadvantaged individuals and groups (Heikkinen, 1999).

Despite the problems of co-ordination, it is possible to define welfare problems in six areas;

1. Problems making ends meet in the household economy;

2. Low management standard;

3. Unemployment problems;

4. Poor health

5. Social isolation; and

6. Exposure to violence.

In the first annual report on poverty and social exclusion (Department of Social Security, 1999, p.24-6), the 'key features of poverty and social exclusion' are identified. These are as follows:

* Lack of opportunities to work;

* Lack of opportunities to acquire education and skills;

* Childhood deprivation;

* Disrupted families;

* Barrier to older people living active, fulfilling and healthy lives;

* Inequalities in health;

* Poor housing;

* Poor neighbourhoods;

* Fear of crime;

* Disadvantaged groups.

Burchardt et al (1999,p.231) have suggested a different approach based on a notion of participation in five types of activity:

* Consumption activity: being able to consume ...
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