The mixed economy of welfare is a system in which services are provided not only by the state, but by the private, voluntary and informal sectors, this is a plurality of providers. This is when we see a mix of different agencies and organisations delivering these services on the front line. The mixed economy of welfare is often something that is presented a being a new thing however this is certainly not the case. The term welfare state appears to imply that the bulk of welfare is provided by the state which some have described as the ‘nanny state’, an impression that is reinforced by the fact that services used by much of the population such as healthcare and education are normally associated with the state, there is a popular belief that the state is the main and dominate provide of welfare. However, this is no longer the case, if indeed it ever was the case. In today’s society, welfare services are funded and provided by a variety of different organisations across the private, public, voluntary and informal sectors.
Organisations other than the state had been providing social policy long before this, in the 1600’s before the state started to introduce policies to provide relief for poorer people, charitable organisations and churches had traditionally performed this type of role. With the return of the increase of charitable and church taking on the role of the state we have seen a reversal in the the state does and its responsibilities. It has been argued that we have seen a return to organisations other than the state providing for its citizens. The informal sector has long been providers of the services that the state came to dominate during the golden years of welfare. In the 1980’s under the Thatcher government that there were limited funds available to public services and there were growing needs for them so the reforms of the 1980’s did play a role.
In recent times there has arguably been some degree of agreement between politicians that the state should be the organisation who pays for many welfare services, but not the organisation who provides these services. This is carried out by or in partnership with other organisations.