THE MORAL STATE WE’RE IN
Julia Neuberger, Harper Collins
ISBN: 0007181671, £16.99
Star Rating: 3/5
Neuberger sketches a Breughel-like panorama of the modern
dispossessed, and how society continues to let most of them down.
She is scathing about today’s risk-averse professional cultures,
although she is too casual about the specific risks many service
users face and the difficulty practitioners encounter when trying
to protect them, writes Anthony Douglas.
The book concentrates on vulnerable groups who are hardest to
help, like those needing long-term care, and uses case examples to
illustrate society’s ambivalence.
Yet Neuberger ignores the majority of people who use state
welfare services for short periods, often successfully. Short-term
work is rewarding for service users and staff, as quick wins can be
achieved. And public opinion is complex. Even the super-me
generation gives generously to charity if inspired.
While pacy, the book lacks balance and a clear thread of
argument. Many suggested solutions are admirably aspirational, but
the complexity of implementing real change is underplayed.
Anthony Douglas is chief executive of the Children and
Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) and chair of
BAAF adoption and fostering.