The context to this exploration of adult social care is the concept of the ‘shrinking state’. This refers to the erosion of the state from its customary intervention in regulating economic growth and promoting redistribution, and the overall weakening of the state as an institution in local and regional affairs. It is visible in underfunded social programmes, a smaller public sector, weakened regulatory structures, forgone infrastructure projects, public asset sales and continued privatisation. Although such trends are often interpreted as part of the fall-out from the 2008 recession they have been in train for much longer in the UK. This shrinkage of the role of the state is particularly true of adult social care, which could reasonably be regarded as the first major neo-liberal social policy experiment. With policy roots going back almost forty years it is important the book places this trend in a broader political and ideological context around the rise of neo-liberalism and the outsourcing of public services provision.
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