Social Security and Poverty

  • Robert East
Part of the Macmillan Law Masters book series (PMLM)


Social security is concerned with the provision of financial support to those with problems of financial hardship. Twentieth-century Britain has seen the emergence of the welfare state whereby the government plays an active role in promoting social welfare by providing cash benefits and benefits in kind. The latter include the provision of health and medical facilities as well as schooling, whereas cash benefits most obviously embrace social security benefits provided to those deemed to require them. The objectives of social security, like those of the welfare state in general, are diverse with different protagonists advocating different aspirations. These objectives range from promoting greater economic equality by redistributing resources from the rich, via taxation, to the poor in the form of social security benefits to facilitating people to provide more effectively for their own needs by requiring contributions to be paid by working individuals in order to finance benefits when they are not working, e.g. when sick, unemployed or in old age. However, the most widely supported objective of a system of social security is to provide a minimum standard of living below which no one should fall. Support for this, although their motives for so doing differed, has ranged from Anthony Crosland on the left to Sir William Beveridge and on to right-wing thinkers such as Hayek. As such, the provision of social security benefits has had, as a central aim, the relief of poverty.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Atkinson, A. B. (1983) The Economics of Inequality, 2nd edition, Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Becker, S. (1991) Windows of Opportunity, Child Poverty Action Group.Google Scholar
  3. Berthoud, R., Brown, J. C. and Copper, S. (1981) Poverty and the Development of Anti-Poverty Policy in the United Kingdom, Heinemann.Google Scholar
  4. Booth, C. (1902) Life and Labour of the People in London. Google Scholar
  5. Commission on Urban Priority (1985) Faith in the City, a Call for Action by Church and Nation, Church House.Google Scholar
  6. Deacon, A. (1991) The retreat from state welfare’. In D. Becker.Google Scholar
  7. Desai, M. (1986) Drawing the line: defining the poverty threshold. In P. Golding (ed.) Excluding the Poor, Child Poverty Action Group, p. 1.Google Scholar
  8. George, V. (1973) Social Security and Society, Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  9. George, V. and Howards, I. (1991) Poverty amidst Affluence: Britain and the United States, Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  10. Golding, P. (1986) Excluding the Poor, Child Poverty Action Group.Google Scholar
  11. Joseph, K. and Sumption, J. (1979) Equality, Murray.Google Scholar
  12. Lister, R. (1990) The Exclusive Society: Citizenship and the Poor, Child Poverty Action Group.Google Scholar
  13. Lewis, O. (1961) The Children of Sanchez, Random House.Google Scholar
  14. Loney, M., Boswell, D. and Clarke, J. (1983) Social Policy and Social Welfare, Open University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Mead, L. (1986) Beyond Entitlement, Free Press.Google Scholar
  16. Murray, C. (1984) Losing Ground, Basic Books.Google Scholar
  17. Oppenheim, C. and Harker, L. (1996) Poverty: The Facts, Child Poverty Action Group.Google Scholar
  18. Rowntree, B. S. (1991) Poverty: A Study of Town Life, Macmillan.Google Scholar
  19. Rowntree, B. S. and Lavers, G. (1951) Poverty and the Welfare State, Longmans.Google Scholar
  20. Sen, A. K. (1981) Poverty and Famines, Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  21. Smith, A. (1776) The Wealth of Nations. Google Scholar
  22. Spicker, P. (1993) Poverty and Social Security, Routledge.Google Scholar
  23. Townsend, P. (1979) Poverty in the United Kingdom: a survey of household resources and standard of living, PenguinGoogle Scholar
  24. Townsend, P. (1962) The meaning of poverty, British Journal of Sociology Google Scholar
  25. Townsend, P. (1979) Proverty in the United Kingdom: a survey of household resources and standards of living, Penguin.Google Scholar
  26. Townsend, P.(1983) ‘A theory of poverty and the role of social policy’. In M. Loney, D. Boswell and J. Clarke, Social Policy and Social Welfare, Open University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Veit-Wilson, J. (1986) ‘Paradigms of poverty’, Journal of Social Policy, January.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Robert East 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert East
    • 1
  1. 1.School of LawUniversity of GlamorganUK

Personalised recommendations