However, in other parts of the world, social welfare includes the provision of a wide range of social services provided by the state that benefit individual citizens. In most these are considered natural rights, and indeed that position is borne out by the UN Convention on Social and Economic Rights[?] and other treaty documents. Accordingly many refer to welfare within a context of social justice, making an analogy to negative rights of fair treatment or restraint in criminal justice.
Access to such services is usually on the basis of provable need, rather than simple lack of ability to pay for services. These services are often provided free of charge, or at a nominal fee, with the state, ultimately the taxpayer, picking up the majority of the cost. Typical social welfare services include:
Child protection services are often considered part of the social welfare system, while the Police, legal assistance for those before the Courts, and other parts of the justice system are not. There are close links between social welfare and justice systems, often because they encounter the same people. The distinction is a matter of personal responsibility. Those involved in the social welfare system are generally unable to control or influence their own circumstances, while those in the justice system are generally responsible for the situation they find themselves in. Assistance given to to those in the justice system is more about allowing an individual to receive fair treatment rather than social welfare. While being involved in the justice system often excludes an individual from social welfare assistance, those exiting the justice system, such as released prisoners, and families of those involved in the justice system are often eligible for social welfare assistance because of increased needs and increased risk of recidivism if the assistance is not provided. In some countries, improvements in social welfare services have been justified by savings being made in the justice system, as well as personal healthcare and legal costs.
States or nations that provide comprehensive social welfare programmes are often identified as having a welfare state. In such countries access to social welfare services is often considered a basic and inalienable right to those in need.
In order to reproduce utilitarian philosophy more faithfully in economic models, it is necessary to suppose the existence of a social welfare function, which specifies which situations are better than others, in terms of the resources held by everyone in society.