Over the past decade, the British welfare state has undergone the most fundamental reforms since World War II. Much discussion of current policy focuses on the global issues of cuts, privatization and the scope of the state sector. This book argues that the organizational reforms of the 1990s are also of far-reaching significance and will play a major role in setting the agenda for welfare policy into the next century. The new welfare settlement emphasizes decentralization, the use of markets, an autonomous managerialism, a stronger voice for consumers and a greater role for the private sector. Reformers claim that the changes allow a more efficient, flexible and responsive welfare system, while critics argue that they will lead to greater inequality and to discrimination against the most vulnerable groups of service users. This book differs from other recent publications in its emphasis on the changes in the organization and delivery of services.
It examines the emergence of the new managerial ideology in central and local government, considers the similarities and differences between the UK and other European countries and reviews policy change across the range of public services. The concluding chapter evaluates competing explanations of why the transformation has occurred and discusses future developments. The book provides a practical discussion of the issues, and should be of value to a wide range of students and welfare practitioners.