The Public Services and Welfare at Demos focuses on the most pressing issues regarding public service and welfare reform under the Coalition Government. It combines flagship Demos themes of personalisation and empowerment of citizens when using public services, with a focus on those most affected by the changes to the welfare state. Our goal is to explore how public policy, service structures and cultures can be aligned to achieve better outcomes in health, care, housing and education. The programme undertakes work across the following three strands:
Disability, health and social care
The NHS and social care are undergoing fundamental reform - the controversial Health and Social Care Bill will usher in new structures and processes, bringing with them new opportunities for integrated working across health, care and housing, as well as a more localised focus on public health. The forthcoming Social Care white paper will need to tackle the challenges of an ageing population and increased incidence of dementia and multiple and complex needs, alongside a working age disabled population which demands greater independence, control over their lives and an active role in their community. Personalisation will be key, but more difficult than ever to implement in the face of a significant funding shortfall.
Skills and the labour market
Increasing employment and reducing the benefits' burden are the government's key priorities, driven by economic and social considerations. In particular, reducing record youth unemployment and tackling intractable and long term unemployment are top of the agenda. But do the various elements of the government's response - the Work Programme, school and higher education reforms, the massive expansion of apprenticeships - provide workable solutions to these problems? Previous and ongoing work by Demos in this area engages with these questions, focussing on, amongst other things, the transition from school-to-work, job-search support, the fitness for purpose of different educational routes and the role of employers in contributing to education and in-work progression.
Welfare Reform is arguably the flagship agenda of the Coalition Government. The highly controversial Welfare Reform Bill presents a raft of radical plans - the Universal Credit and associated cap on housing benefit, the freezing of Child Benefit and abolition of Disability Living Allowance to name a few. The impact of these changes will vary greatly - for families with and without children, in and out of employment, and for disabled and non-disabled. It is important to unpick the effects of these changes and ask - are they the most effective method of balancing the need for reduced spending with the outcomes of social mobility and protecting the most vulnerable?
The programme is led by deputy director, Claudia Wood. Please get in touch for more information about specific projects or if you are interested in working with us.