Published: 06/02/2003, Volume II3, No. 5841 Page 35

Partnerships, New Labour and the Governance of Welfare Edited by Caroline Glendinning, Martin Powell and Kirstein Rummery Publisher: The Policy Press. ISBN: 1861343396. 260pages.£18.99.

This book is the result of a seminar at York University on New Labour and the third way in public services.

Important questions are asked - what is meant by 'partnership', is there anything distinctively 'New Labour' about it, who benefits and how successful is partnership?

The introduction is nicely sceptical about the vogue for partnership, which, it says, risks becoming a 'Humpty Dumpty' term (one that means whatever its user wants it to mean).

It also says there is nothing new about 'partnership'. The government has worked with charities and other bodies since the 1601 poor law.

More controversially, the book concludes that the state may benefit from modern forms of partnership, because it can dictate its terms, but 'there is little evidence that the users of welfare benefit significantly...'