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The sins of the parents: conceptualising adult-oriented reforms to family policy

Stewart, Kitty ORCID: 0000-0001-7744-8741, Patrick, Ruth and Reeves, Aaron ORCID: 0000-0001-9114-965X (2023) The sins of the parents: conceptualising adult-oriented reforms to family policy. CASEpapers (CASE 228). Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, London, UK.

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A core element of a welfare state is the support that is provided to families with children, in recognition of the additional needs that dependent children create. Variation in the design, generosity and implementation of this provision is significant, reflecting underpinning perspectives towards children, families, and the state’s role in supporting them. Recent work by Mary Daly developed a new typology of social policy towards children, differentiating between ‘childhood-oriented’, ‘child-oriented’ and ‘family-oriented’ policies. In this paper, we explore how far this typology enables us to classify recent significant changes to social security support for children within the UK, in particular the 2013 benefit cap and the 2017 two-child limit. We propose that an extension to Daly’s typology is needed to make sense of these changes. We develop a new category of ‘adult-behaviour-orientated’ child-contingent policy, encapsulating policies that are directed towards children but made conditional on the behaviour of the adults in their household. We go on to analyse support for children across Europe through the lens of this extended framework. Significantly, we find the UK’s approach to be unusual but not exceptional, with other examples across the continent of children being rendered invisible or semi-visible within social security systems that prioritise other goals than children’s needs. It is significant that across diverse national contexts, support for children is being withdrawn (or is simply absent) because of the behaviours and circumstances of the adults in their household.

Item Type: Monograph (Discussion Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Authors
Divisions: Social Policy
Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HJ Public Finance
JEL classification: I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I3 - Welfare and Poverty > I38 - Government Policy; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
E - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics > E6 - Macroeconomic Policy Formation, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, Macroeconomic Policy, and General Outlook > E62 - Fiscal Policy; Public Expenditures, Investment, and Finance; Taxation
H - Public Economics > H2 - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
H - Public Economics > H5 - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies
I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I1 - Health > I10 - General
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2024 13:45
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 12:33

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