Three: The context for service delivery: third sector, state and market relationships 1997–2015

This chapter focuses in greater detail on the crucial New Labour and Coalition government periods; comparing and contrasting the policy and practice of the two periods. It has two broad aims: to provide a historical overview of policy, practice and academic debates that have surrounded the often controversial role of the third sector in public service delivery; and to tease out underlying continuities and points of difference in the stances of these governments towards the sector. The analysis is framed by the welfare triangle developed by Adalbert Evers, with a consequent focus on the interfaces with the state, market and informal sectors. Whilst shifts in discourse and practice are detected, the chapter identifies an underlying continuation of trajectories initiated in the 1980s including movement towards market-based forms of provision, the reduction of the scale of the welfare state, and aspirations to harness the perceived positive contribution of the third sector.

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