One may begin by stating that social policy, in it’s broadest sense, is about the welfare of people and is concerned with their social needs and the social problems they encounter. Social policy came about as an attempt to rectify social problems and offer some form of welfare aid and relief, whether earned, National Insurance contributions providing health cover, or not, some welfare benefits are provided irrespective of contribution or need; Child Benefit.
One of the predominant functions surrounding social policy is the generation of questions. Questions relating to such issues as unemployment, education, health, income, housing and the personal social services and how they might be improved. How best to deal with crime including the huge problem of drug misuse; what to do about homelessness; how to protect children from neglect and abuse; should disruptive children be excluded from schools? And how best to provide adequate benefits and pensions to those who need them.
Social Policy also raises questions of a more general nature, which require solutions; how should societies organise and structure education and medical care to meet the widely differing needs of citizens; what are the nature and causes of inequality and discrimination? How can the effectiveness of government policies or the workings of national institutions such as the criminal justice system or schools be properly assessed? An important part of the work of social policy is to explore the causes, scope and extent of social problems, both nationally and internationally.
Having identified the problems, social policy then aims to go forward to consider the ways in which society, as a whole, attempts, or should attempt, to resolve or deal with these problems. Social Policy is concerned with the analysis of societies’ responses to social need and includes many different aspects; economics, sociology, psychology, philosophy, political science, politics, international studies, social history, development administration and cultural studies. Social Policy is focused on those aspects of the economy, society and polity that are necessary to human existence and the means by which they can be provided.
These basic human needs include, food and shelter a sustainable and safe environment the promotion of health and treatment of the sick the care and support of those unable to live a fully independent life the education and training of individuals to a level that enables them fully to participate in their society. Social Policy is designed to reflect the ways in which different societies have developed ways of meeting these needs, or, in some cases, have failed to do so.
Some societies rely on informal or family institutions, some on private markets and individual actions, some on governmental actions through what is often termed the welfare state. Social policy is concerned with contemporary social issues, particularly those affecting living standards and quality of life. This includes issues, which often dominate the domestic political agenda – such as the NHS, education, crime, work and unemployment, child abuse and homelessness. Behind these issues are larger questions about how social needs, rights and problems are constructed.
About who pays for welfare, who provides it and who benefits from it. About the relationships between welfare and the world of work; and, more recently, about the evolution of social policy in a European context. Social policy is about trying to find ways of understanding and improving society. It is also about trying to improve the welfare of all citizens, creating equal opportunity, meeting the needs of those who cannot provide for themselves, alleviating social problems (e. g. drug misuse, teenage pregnancy, domestic violence and crime).