Key Points:

  • The traditional welfare state is receding. Changing demographic patters, growing pressures on state funds, and a shift in emphasis from paternalism to individual responsibility have induced governments to explore new ways of providing social welfare services.
  • Neil Gilbert states that welfare systems have shifted away from broad-based state entitlements and automatic benefits to a new approach marked by greater individual responsibility, more targeted benefits, and a bigger role for private sector providers.
  • Two key features of the new social welfare order are that expenditure on social policy will be constrained, and will even decline; and that expenditure will no longer be guided by the principles of the welfare state.
  • The success of public service reform depends upon whether policy-makers come to fully understand the complex motivations of public sector professionals, and manage to design appropriate incentives.
  • The four guiding principles of the new paradigm are: individual instead of government responsibility for social welfare; targeted instead of general benefits; ‘workfare’ instead of welfare; and private instead of public management.

Press Release: Rethinking the welfare state