New report: The Rise of the Enabling State: A Review of Policy and Evidence across the UK and Ireland

The Carnegie UK Trust is today releasing The Rise of the Enabling State: A Review of Policy and Evidence across the UK and Ireland.

The report outlines the findings of the most comprehensive contemporary review of public policy reform from around the UK and Ireland.

As austerity continues to affect public spending, governments are struggling with the implications of ageing populations and increased demand.   The Trust argues that a new model of public services, based on a new relationship with citizens and communities, is required.

Based on almost 200 research reports, policy analysis papers and government documents, the review highlights the shift from the welfare state to the enabling state.   The shift pre-dates the financial crisis of 2008 but austerity policies have accelerated the rate of change.

The review highlights 7 key aspects of the shift from a welfare state to an enabling state:

  • From new public management to public value
  • From central to local states
  • From representative to participatory democracy
  • From silos to integration
  • From crisis intervention to prevention
  • From recipients to co-producers
  • From state delivery to the third sector

Speaking ahead of the release, Julia Unwin, Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said: ‘In a noisy and frequently theoretical and rather sterile debate, this report brings a refreshingly clear sighted approach to the major dilemma of our times – namely the relationship between the state, the community and the market in our complex and challenging  environment. The framework proposed is both accessible, and stimulating, and the discussion is grounded in practical experience’

Rolf Alter, Director, Public Governance and Territorial Development, OECD said:
“The financial crisis showed that the state has responsibilities that cannot be delegated. But it also suggested that governments need to find new, more inclusive ways of developing policies for citizens. This report shows that the state can nurture the energy that communities have to develop more responsive policies and regain citizens trust without losing its strategic role of safeguarding the wider public interest.”

Sir John Elvidge’s The Enabling State: A discussion paper was published in 2012. During 2013 the Trust have been sought to better understand and clarify what an Enabling State means with the help of stakeholders from across the UK and Ireland. A sister publication to today’s report The Enabling State: From Rhetoric to Reality - case studies of contemporary practice is also available here.

Sir John’s final report and recommendations will be published in early 2014.

For more information on this project please contact Jenny Brotchie, Policy Officer (