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By Peggy Foster

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Extra info for Access to Welfare: An Introduction to Welfare Rationing

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Nevertheless few would dispute the view that social service benefits ought to be allocated primarily according to need. Welfare providers, particularly welfare professionals, have publicly emphasised their dedication to meeting c1ients' needs, whilst academics in the field of social administration have undertaken a great deal of research in this area. They have 'discovered' new needs, measured and publicised existing unmet needs and called for increasing provision to meet them. Researchers have also revealed the extent to which certain services have failed to distribute their benefits primarily according to need.

First, it criticises those who take a narrow view of welfare needs wh ich excludes any analysis of the relationship between capitalism and the creation of needs and diswelfares. Second, it challenges the tradition al approach to the social services which ignores their role within the capitalist state and emphasises that their primary objective is to distribute benefits according to need. Marxists suggest that the failure of welfare providers to meet need is as much the result of deli berate policy as of any inadvertant confusion over the meaning, definition of measurement of welfare needs.

But alternative approaches to defining welfare needs which emphasise the c1ient's perspective have begun to influence welfare planners and researchers, many of whom now accept that at least some account should be taken of c1ient's subjective needs within the social services. Measuring welfare needs In order to plan social services in response to social needs and in order to distribute welfare benefits rationally and fairly, welfare providers must attempt to measure those needs which they endeavour to meet.

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