On the forty-second page of “Democracies in Flux: The Evolution of Social Capital in Contemporary Society” (edited by Robert D. Putnam) contributor Peter A. Hall wrote (hyperlinks & emphasis added):
1960s and 1970s saw even more rapid growth in public programs utilizing voluntary endeavor, notably in the spheres of poverty, urban renewal, and child care, where they were closely allied to a host of new voluntary associations, such as Shelter and the Child Poverty Action Group.70 The Local Government Act of 1972 authorized local authorities to spend up to 2 pence on the rates of local taxation to fund voluntary organizations, and the same year saw the establishment of the Volunteer Centre and the Voluntary Services Unit in the Home Office to coordinate and enhance the role of volunteers in the provision of social services.71
Although operating from multifarious objectives, the Conservative governments of 1979-97 reinforced this trend by encouraging local government to contract out a wide range of services to nonprofit organizations in order to reduce the size of the state sector. Shortly after taking office, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher declared, "I believe that the voluntary movement is at the heart of all of our social welfare provision," and between 1976 and 1987, the income of the voluntary sector from fees and grants almost doubled.72
By 1994-95, 12.5 percent of the income of voluntary associations in Britain (£687 million) came from local authorities, while central government provided another £450 million (not including funding for housing), much of which went to organizations delivering social services in the spheres of community care, family welfare, education, and recreation.73 Although many of the organizations receiving these funds employed professional staff as well as volunteers, government funding apparently did not erode their voluntary character. Leat, Tester, and Unell found that local voluntary associations receiving large amounts of public money utilized more volunteers than those receiving fewer funds. Moreover, Hatch's inquiry into the origins of voluntary organizations in three towns found that public officials provided the impetus for creating more of them than did any other source.74
In short, British governments have worked to ensure that voluntary activity flourishes, using volunteers alongside professionals for the delivery of social services. This commitment has been accompanied by large public expenditures, including grants and fees for services, to associations that mobilize voluntary action on the local level. All indications are that these policies have made a major contribution to sustaining the kind of associations that augment the level of social capital in Britain.
Explaining Changes in Social Trust
The one indicator for social capital to have fallen over the postwar years is that measuring the generalized trust people express in others. We can