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Abstract for:

Boundaries between Public and Private Welfare: a typology and map of services ( Private Welfare and Public Policy, Burchardt, Hills and Propper, Rowntree Foundation, Jan 1999)

Tania Burchardt,  November 1997
Paper No' CASE 002: Full paper (pdf)
Tags: tax, benefits and pensions; taxation and economic policy; welfare benefits and policy; private welfare; privatisation; government expenditure


This paper develops a typology of welfare services and attempts to illustrate its use in clarifying discussions about the privatisation of welfare and in analysing changes in expenditure. A third dimension, which concerns the extent of the consumer's decision-making power and turns on the question of agency and exit, is added to the now familiar dimensions of provision and finance. This third dimension is found to have been increasingly important in policy terms, as attempts have been made to reduce the role of the 'pure public' sector. The assisted-places scheme, NHS glasses vouchers, and tax relief on pension contributions are all examples of policies which sought to promote consumer decision-making. However despite the policy interest in moving from public to private decision, the second half of the paper shows that the impact in terms of changes in patterns of welfare expenditure since 1979/80 has been small. The overall picture is one of continuing importance of the publicly provided, financed and decided sector, accounting for just over half of all welfare expenditure in 1979/80 and just under half in 1995/96