The last two decades of the twentieth century saw the most fundamental changes in British social policy since the creation of the welfare state in the 1940s. From Margaret Thatcher's radical reassessment of the role of the state to Tony Blair's 'Third Way', the voluntary sector has been at the heart of these changes. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, voluntary organisations have been cast in leading roles on the social policy stage. They are expected to make key contributions to countering social exclusion; to regenerating communities; to providing social housing and welfare services; to promoting international aid and development; and to developing and sustaining democratic participation and the active community.
But how are voluntary sector organisations grappling with the implications of their new, expanded role? How is their relationship with the state changing in practice? This book, which has its origins in an international conference of leading academics in the field, provides answers to these pressing questions. It analyses the numerous and complex ways in which the formulation and implementation of social policy is dependent on the contributions of the voluntary sector. It discusses the impact of the new policy environment on voluntary organisations. And it suggests that the successful implementation of social policy requires government to acknowledge and nurture the distinctive features and contributions of voluntary sector organisations. Voluntary Organisations and Social Policy in Britain is essential reading not only for the many people studying, working in or working with the voluntary sector in Britain but also for anyone who is interested in the formulation and implementation of social policy.