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The current parameters of the debate around welfare reform are inadequate. A relentless focus on finance and costs obscures the systemic challenges facing our post-war welfare institutions. Although exacerbated by the current financial crisis, these challenges have deeper roots and
are as much about culture, systems and relationships as they are about money. This article looks through the eyes of those families most reliant on the welfare state and so offers a different understanding of the nature of the problem. We can start to see the beginnings of new models and approaches
to the welfare state. The article argues that Labour needs to create something shared, collective and relational – rather than continuing to reform an outdated transactional model.
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