There is now a considerable literature on the ‘crisis’ of the welfare state. Most of this literature is non-feminist in orientation. At the same time feminist analyses of the welfare state have tended to neglect this ‘crisis’ as an object for analysis, or at least to subsume it within what they consider to be the normal workings of the welfare state. The complementary character of welfare state provision has ensured that the relativities of the distribution of wealth have remained unaltered. The neoconservative advocacy of a retreat from the welfare state takes the form of advocating a more restrictive safety net. Neo-conservatives raise fundamental questions about statist modes of providing for need when the modern state itself has become complex, bureaucratised, all-pervasive and monolithic. Feminists have been no different from anyone else in discerning the wider structural issues and broad patterns involved in the crisis of the welfare state.