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The Shifting Balance of Private and Public Welfare Activity in the United Kingdom, 1979 to 2007

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  • Daniel Edmiston

Abstract

The balance between private and public sectors in welfare activity in the UK has been documented by Burchardt (1997) and Smithies (2005) for three time periods; 1979/1980, 1995/1996 and 1999/2000. The existing evidence suggested that a welfare mix has previously been in existence but that the balance had been shifting. This paper explores this phenomenon by updating the existing evidence with a snapshot of the welfare mix in 2007/2008 across five different welfare sectors: Education, Health, Housing, Income Maintenance and Social Security and Personal Social Services. The paper systematically explores who finances, controls and delivers services in each of these five welfare sectors. Over the 29 year period, there has been a gradual increase in the proportion of welfare activity that is privately financed, controlled and delivered, and a gradual decrease in the proportion of welfare activity that is publicly financed, controlled and delivered. The most significant change is the proportion of services that are contracted-out, and the majority of this change generally occurred prior to 1995/96; since then changes have been much more slight and nuanced. Interestingly, the most significant growth in total welfare activity as a proportion of GDP occurred between 1979 and 1996, and Pure Private activity only accounted for part of this.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Edmiston, 2011. "The Shifting Balance of Private and Public Welfare Activity in the United Kingdom, 1979 to 2007," CASE Papers case155, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:sticas:case155
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    File URL: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/dps/case/cp/CASEpaper155.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Smithies, Rachel, 2005. "Public and private welfare activity in the United Kingdom, 1979 to 1999," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 6271, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Tom Sefton, 2002. "Recent Changes in the Distribution of the Social Wage," CASE Papers case62, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
    3. Rachel Smithies, 2005. "Public and Private Welfare Activity in the United Kingdom, 1979 to 1999," CASE Papers 093, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
    4. John Hills, 2011. "The changing architecture of the UK welfare state," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(4), pages 589-607.
    5. Hills, John, 2011. "The changing architecture of the UK welfare state," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 42937, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Private provision; public provision; welfare system; public expenditure; health; education; social security; housing; personal care;

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions

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