The United States has a long tradition of welfare pluralism. Despite the growth in public sector funding of welfare programmes, notably in President Johnson’s ‘Great Society’ package, there remained a thriving voluntary sector providing social services often under the banner of religious affiliation or ethnic identity. In addition, there has always been a private for-profit sector offering specialist services on a contract basis to individuals or to public agencies. The same mix can be seen in the United Kingdom. The difference lies in the relative strengths of the private and voluntary sectors which have been a small proportion of total spending in the UK but have provided around 30 per cent of all social welfare spending in the USA.
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