Models of welfare
Welfare, according to Dickens, (2010) is a term used to describe the well-being of individuals. Having this in mind, various services are tailored to achieve this aim. In this regard, many governments around the world have been introducing social policies that seek to improve service delivery to citizens. The motivation behind this has been to serve the citizens in the best way possible in an attempt to fulfill their role as government. Policies revolving around service delivery of institutions in the society such as schools, hospitals, and the like are formulated in order to assist the needy members of society in the best way. Therefore, as the policies’ aims indicate, they are aligned to assist these groups in a financial capacity to allow them access vital services at a low cost or sometimes none at all.
This paper will therefore shed light on the different models of welfare, the founding principles behind them as well as the arguments for and against the said models. As a result, this paper will therefore analyze the connection between the models and the social policies behind them as well as the overall impact on social work.
Models of social work
Pierson (2011) identifies the three main models of social work from the governance perspective as corporate, social democratic and liberal models.
The corporate model is more work-oriented and relies on individual contributions as opposed to the reliance on taxes. As a result there is moderate distribution of income across all groups of income earners. In other cases, this is also referred to as an institutional model.
For this model to be fully realized, the following are the founding principles that support it:
- A certain level of social protection must be offered to all in cases of security instances
- Services must be conferred to all individuals to the best level possible
- There must be achievement of set standards including income standards
Although the principles provide an ideal scenario, the real situation on the ground is that countries that have adopted this model such as the United Kingdom have not been able to live up to the principles behind the model, in which case, the set standards have been generally maintained at low levels with tight rationing. Despite the fact that the model has been made available to a large section of the population, the benefits that have been realized have been stretched thin.
Cunningham (2010) indicates that the institutional model explained above is more of a one-size-fits-all model that assumes standard needs and requirements of all hence proposing of a similar strategy in the delivery of required services. Therefore, he indicates that such models are not sustainable and responsive to individual needs as different individuals have different needs.
As a result of implementation of such a model, social work is in turn affected, in which case, the unique needs of individuals in the society are not met. This becomes a form of ‘take it or leave it’ situation.
Social democratic Model
According to Pierson, (2011) the underlying principle of this model is that economic development is achieved in tandem with social welfare. Furthermore, it depends on other core principles such as equality and achievement of human rights. Despite the model embracing aspects of mutual aid, there is a clause that calls for individuality hence depicting for achievement of individual freedoms. The mutual aid here is supported by individual hedge funds
The above identified principles have an overarching effect on social work. This is reflected in instances where the social services offered are representative of the central principle of economic development. As a result, the services are tailored to be represented as those closely related to the overall position of the people in the economic market.
Dickens (2010) explains this further by indicating that services should be decentralized in which case would support individual participation. Therefore, this way would ensure that government would only intervene in exceptional cases, a residual role, where it would only come in once other means have failed to materialize
The Liberal model involves an individualistic perspective that ensures that state intervention is kept at a minimum. Therefore, the forces of the market are free to operate in the market and social welfare is thus supported from the activities of the free market environment.
The central principle guiding the policies of this model is that of freedom. The rights and freedoms of individuals take center stage and as a policy seek to invoke individualistic rights that aim to protect individuals from the interference of the state. In the liberal model, the freedoms accorded to an individual are not equal and the prevailing ones that are referenced in this model include the freedom of worship, speech and of assembly.
The overriding effect of this model on social work is that the welfare programmes are supported independently by individuals rather than the state, the focus being on the provision of social protection to those in the low income brackets.
Welfare programmes are meant to improve not just the financial position of those it supports but the overall well being of individuals. As a result, aspects such as education, healthcare and security come in the picture. However, these programmes are not all destined to solve all of society’s problems. For instance, the latest statistics from the U.K’s Welfare to Work programme has been termed as a failure with the numbers indicating that only 5.3% of individuals have benefitted from it, a far cry from the government’s estimate of 16.5% (Cebulla, 2004)
One thing that remains clear is that individuals should take it upon themselves to depend upon themselves and not the government or else they will be waiting forever for their dreams of stability to be realized.
Pierson, J. (2011). Understanding social work history and context. Maidenhead, Open University Press.
Dickens, J. (2010). Social work and social policy: An introduction. Abingdon, Routledge.
Cunningham, J. and Cunningham, S. (2010). Social policy and social work: An introduction. Exeter, Learning Matters.
Cebulla, A. (2004). Welfare-to-work: New Labour and the US experience. Aldershot, Hants, England, Ashgate.