With the simple additions of a proposal to remove benefits from those who repeatedly refuse work and volunteering for the long-term unemployed, the Tory’s new welfare reform proposals seem little more than those floated by Labour before Christmas. Nor do the additions sound new to me. I can clearly recall these same ideas being part of the debates during the 1990s. Workfare was a popular mantra then too.
The problem is, once again, that no thinking has been done about the problem. To look at a project in the US and say, oh, that could work in the UK is to misunderstand the idea of policy learning and transfer. It is not a matter of uncritical copying but of understanding the complexity of an intervention, why and in what way it might have worked (or not worked) and, therefore, what might work elesewhere and in what circumstances.