How Social Security Works

An Introduction to Benefits in Britain

Paul Spicker

How Social Security Works

Paul Spicker

Distributed for Bristol University Press

284 pages
Paper $38.95 ISBN: 9781847428103 Published January 2011 For sale in North and South America only
Cloth $91.00 ISBN: 9781847428110 Published January 2011 For sale in North and South America only
How social security works is an introduction to the much-misunderstood system of benefits in Britain. The book is an accessible, broadly based and sometimes controversial text which can help readers to make sense of the system in practice. It explains the guiding principles, outlines the social context, considers the development and political dimensions of benefits, and reviews how the system operates now. There are detailed discussions of the types of benefit, and the contingencies covered by the benefits system.Paul Spicker examines whether the system offers value for money, how it could be simplified and how it can be improved. The book will be useful to students on undergraduate and professional courses, but beyond that it will appeal to policy makers, practitioners and a broader general readership.

Part one: Introductory principles
What is social security?
Social security and the welfare state
Social security and society

Part two: The development of the system
The origins of social security in the UK
The politics of social security
A unified system?

Part three: Benefits
National Insurance
Means tested benefits I: the basic minimum
Means testing II: income supplements
The provision of non-contributory benefits
Discretionary benefits
Universal benefits
Claiming benefits
Understanding complexity

Part four: The principal contingencies
Benefits for people with disabilities
Children and families
Lone parents
Unemployed people
Benefits for the poor

Part five: Issues in social security policy
The cost of social security
Fraud and abuse
Responding to poverty
Social security and redistribution
How social security in Britain compares to other countries

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