By Peggy Foster
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Additional info for Access to Welfare: An Introduction to Welfare Rationing
Yet despite continuing disagreement and uncertainty over the meaning of need in its general sense those involved in the welfare field have made great use of the concept in a variety of contexts. Determining welfare needs Welfare providers' use ofneed The power and status of professional welfare providers such as doctors and teachers rest partlyon their claim to be the only group in society capable of defining and evaluating the needs of individuals with respect to certain types of welfare . They also claim that they are best qualified to distinguish between unnecessary demand and genuine need for a particular service.
There can be no doubt that Townsend's provision al deprivation index is of no practical value whatsoever as an indicator of deprivation. 3U Another major criticism ofTownsend's approach to the measureme nt of deprivation is that he inevitably uses a form of value judgeme nt to determine the cut-off point between inequality and deprivation below which families suffer a 'dramatic' decrease in their ability to participate in the custom and activities sanctioned by society. Townsend's claim that the cut-off point between inequality and deprivation can be determined objectively is not convincing.
20 A critical examination of these attempts to measure welfare needs objectively will reveal some of the problems involved in this approach. ' In other words the working party sought a measurement of need wh ich Welfare Needs 29 would be quite independent from the existing supply of heaIth care services. This independent measurement of need would then be used to 'establish and quantify in a relative way the differentials of need between geographicallocations. ,22 It is generally accepted that one of the best, though far from perfect, indicators of need for hospital services is morbidity statistics.