Policy Styles and Welfare Reform in Britain and the US: The Conservative-led Coalition Government and the Obama Administration Compared

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    Abstract

    This article investigates how processes of welfare reform are reflective of different policy styles in the UK and the US. It seeks to assess the extent to which the British and US welfare reform trajectories post-2010 reflected conventional wisdoms regarding the distinctive characteristics of the US and UK policy styles. In particular, it examines whether the traditional vision of a sharp contrast between a rigid, adversarial and conflict-driven style in the US versus a flexible, consensus-driven policy style in the UK is still useful for characterising recent reform trajectories in both countries. The empirical analysis shows that the traditional opposition between a highly politicised, rigid and rule-bound regulatory style in the US versus a flexible, Whitehall-dominated regulatory process with little room for parliamentary scrutiny and legal challenges in the UK remains broadly accurate. In the UK, the Conservative-led Coalition Governments post-2010 could ignore resistance to cumulative, essentially punitive welfare reform changes in the context of hardening public attitudes towards welfare recipients by adopting a package of regulations with very little parliamentary scrutiny and limited judicial review. In the US, administrative waivers, whereby a federal administrative agency waives statutory requirements, have become major policy instruments to try and implement policy change, but the use of sub-regulatory guidance has become open to political and legal challenge.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)130-158
    Number of pages28
    JournalJournal of Social Security Law
    Volume27
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2020

    Bibliographical note

    This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Social Security Law following peer review. The definitive published version is available online on Westlaw UK.

    Keywords

    • Comparative law
    • Law reform
    • social welfare
    • social policy
    • United States

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