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Keywords:

  • Choice;
  • Market;
  • Welfare;
  • Le Grand

Abstract

Competition and choice have become central means of improving public services in England. The former adviser to the Blair government Julian Le Grand has suggested that increased choice and competition should be the cornerstone of policy that aims to deliver more responsive and fairer results for the public. This article explores Le Grand's claims, deploying the conditions earlier suggested by him to examine the conditions which ‘quasi-markets will have to meet if they are to succeed as instruments of social policy’. Claims about the efficacy of choice and competition policies in 2007 are assessed against the earlier conditions of market structure, information, transaction costs, uncertainty, motivation and cream-skimming, to examine the extent to which the reforms Le Grand has most recently proposed meet the conditions he earlier suggested would be necessary for markets to work in the public sector.