HISTORY OF THE WELFARE STATE: The role and significance of the Beveridge Report in establishing the Welfare State in Britain.
The purpose of this essay is to look at the long history of the Welfare State in Britain and the evolving social, economic and political changes in society today, as well as the birth of the Welfare State after the Second World War which was the turning point (watershed) in British History. The freshly appointed Labour government by then took on the job of setting up a ‘welfare state’ that would systematically deal with the ‘five giant evils’ proposed by William Beveridge in a report, which later became known as the Beveridge report. The British welfare state, if it is to be defined, it is generally incorporated with Sir William Beveridge and the after war period.
Welfare State is the concept in which government plays a key role in protecting and promoting the economic and social well-being of its citizens, based on the principles of equal opportunity in the distribution of wealth and public responsibility for those who lack the minimal provisions for a good life, for example good health, education and basic income (Abercrombie and Warde 2000). Is it the responsibility of a government to provide for its citizen, what about the cost, because it can lead to ever-increasing public spending that the government may find difficult to sustain. According to Abercrombie and Warde (2000) the term ‘welfare state’ was invented, following the Second World War when Social policy was developing.
During the Second World War, the coalition government headed by Winston Churchill, the conservative party torch bearer deliberately planned the creation of a better Britain than the one in which many people have lived in the poverty-stricken 1930s. Plans were drafted and policies were generated which were to ensure that, in peacetime, there would be a family support system, good health care for all, more jobs will be made available as well as creating new towns and adequate housing (Walsh et al, 2000).
However, in 1941, during the Second World War, Sir William Beveridge was given a task by Winston Churchill (wartime prime minister of the coalition government) to head an interdepartmental committee of civil servants in an investigation and evaluate the national insurance policies as well as suggestions of ways to improve them (Addison, 2005). But, according to Walsh et al (2000) Beveridge went further than the original terms of references given him. In the final statement know as the ‘Beveridge report’ ( ), it was introduced by its architect, Sir William Beveridge, to the British parliament in 1942. Throughout this report, Beveridge kept mentioning the abolition of ‘want’ which was believed to be the major problem at the time. He predicted major reforms in health, housing, and education; because the policies needed to attack the five giant evils were set out in detail in his report. The five giant evils were want, disease, ignorance, idleness and squalor by which he meant poverty, unemployment, poor housing and lack of access to decent education and health care. This report was radical and became popular partly because of its promise of social security for all, and partly because it brings to mind the vision of the peacetime life promised by Winston Churchill at that time for which million were longing (Abercrombie and Warde 2000).
Winston Churchill was not happy because the Beveridge report brought up issues which distracted people’s attention from the Second World War as well as threatening to produce controversy between the coalition governments. He also disapproved of the Beveridge report on the ground that no government could commit in advance the expenditure involved, thus, confusions between the Conservative and the Labour members and this affected his election champagne during the post war (Addison, 2005). William Beveridge recommendations based on social survey, were designed to tackle poverty...
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