New Labour and the enabling state

Ian Taylor*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The notion of the 'enabling state' gained currency in the UK during the 1990s as an alternative to the 'providing' or the welfare state. It reflected the process of contracting out in the NHS and compulsory competitive tendering (CCT) in local government during the 1980s, but was also associated with developments during the 1990s in health, social care and education in particular. The creation of an internal market in the NHS and the associated purchaser-provider split appeared to transfer 'ownership' of services increasingly to the providers - hospitals, General Practitioners (GPs) and schools. The mixed economy of care that was stimulated by the 1990 NHS and Community Care Act appeared to offer local authorities the opportunity to enable non state providers to offer care services in the community. The new service charters were part of the enablement process because they offered users more opportunity to influence provision. This article examines how far service providers were enabled and assesses the extent to which new Labour's policies enhance or reject the 'enabling state' in favour of more direct provision.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-379
Number of pages8
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2000


  • Community
  • Contracting
  • Enabling state
  • New Labour
  • Primary care


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