Discretion and Welfare Rights in a British Context

  • Michael Hill


When discretion is seen as a policy problem, context is important. One particular area where debates about discretion have occurred is in the provision of cash benefits, where issues about it are embedded in a wider debate between arguments for universalism, driven by concerns about welfare rights. This is explored by an examination of the debate about discretion in social assistance in the UK. The case study looks at the place of discretion in the social assistance system developed after the 1948 National Assistance Act and the debates it provoked. Changes in the 1980s then eliminated the powers to give discretionary additions and restricted the availability of single payments, but left behind difficult issues about the interpretation of rules about benefits. This highlights, it is concluded, difficulties inherent in the framing of rules for complex situations.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Hill
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NewcastleNewcastle upon TyneUK

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