Welfare reform is a central part of the modernisation programme adopted by the Labour governments of the UK since 1997. This introductory chapter discusses the fundamental shift in Labour Party thinking regarding the principle of universal welfare provision, as demanded by several demographic pressures generated by expansive patterns of demand for pensions and healthcare for an ageing population, coupled with the pressures of globalisation to drive down taxes and regulation. This chapter presents the results of several surveys conducted to study the values and attitudes of Members of Parliament with regard to welfare policy. It also presents the methodology of the study conducted between October 2005 and January 2006 that examined parliamentary attitudes on welfare reform during Blair's second government.
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