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.
Paul Spicker is Grampian Chair of Public Policy at the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. In 2007 he was a special adviser to the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee for their report on the simplification of social security benefits. His previous books with The Policy Press include 'Policy analysis for practice' (2006), 'Liberty, equality, fraternity' (2006), 'The idea of poverty' (2007) and 'Social policy: Themes and approaches' (2008).
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: Pensioners; Benefits for people with disabilities; Incapacity; Children and families; Lone parents; Unemployed people; Benefits for the poor; Part five: Issues in social security policy: The cost of social security; Targeting; Fraud and abuse; Responding to poverty; Social security and redistribution; How social security in Britain compares to other countries.
"How Social Security Works is a valuable addition to the literature on social security policy. It will prove to be very useful for introducing students to social security benefits, the ways they are administered and their operation. I would recommend that it is read for these purposes." The Journal of Social Policy, March 2012
"Overall the book is extensive, clear, accessible and engaging. It is both through provoking and informative and will no doubt be a key text for students and others engaged with the social security system." Lee Gregory, University of Cardiff
"... a rich source of information ... useful for those who are interested in the general aspects of social security." European Journal of Social Security
"At last! A good, critical and up-to-date introduction to social security. It will be of enormous assistance to students, academics and indeed anyone interested in social policy." Jonathan Bradshaw, Professor of Social Policy, University of York
"A comprehensive account of the principles of British social security delivered in bite-sized chunks beloved by students." Robert Walker, Professor of Social Policy, University of Oxford