To what extent is the welfare state of the 21st century similar to that envisaged by William Beveridge?

Topics: Labour Party, William Beveridge, Welfare state Pages: 6 (2151 words) Published: February 24, 2014
To what extent is the welfare state of the 21st century similar to that envisaged by William Beveridge? This essay will commence by explaining who William Beveridge was and what problems he seen within the welfare state. Following on from this, it will then compare the welfare state of the 21st century to that seen by William Beveridge in his famous “report of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Social Insurance and Allied Services” which was published on the 1st December 1942, discussing problems and similarities. The “five giant evils” Beveridge claimed to exist will be indentified and analyzed in depth and how Clement Attlee's 1945 Labour government pledged to eliminate these evils. Margaret Thatcher was the first woman conservative party leader, who later on became prime minister, she had ideas and beliefs about the welfare state, this was known as ‘’Thatcherism’’. This will draw in evidence on how the welfare state of the 21st century is similar to that envisaged by William Beveridge prior to reaching a conclusion. A system through which the Government pledges to conserve the health and contentment of its people, particularly those in need either financially or socially by use of grants, pension schemes, and other sorts of benefits is known as the ‘welfare state’. Sir William Beveridge (born 1879) was a British economist and social reformer. He was appointed following the Second World War by the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, to examine the welfare systems and come up with ways to enhance them. His ideas led to the formation of the National Health Service, and a system of social salvation known as the ‘welfare state’. As a result of this, the Labour Governments part in social policy constructing and welfare provision increased tremendously. The Beveridge Report was “an influential document in the founding of the welfare state in the United Kingdom” (Abel-Smith, B. The Beveridge Report: its origins and outcomes 1992) But why is it relevant to comparing the welfare state then with that of the 21st Century? Well, the outcomes of the Beveridge report were significant; it outlined the major programs of what would later become the welfare state, establishing a system at the end of the war which provided social security and The National Health Service. But were these outcomes achieved? Beveridge was focused on overcoming as he called them ‘the five giant evils’ disease, ignorance, want/poverty, squalor and unemployment. However although Beveridge proposed to tackle all five giants, his report only dealt with one: want, the other four still had to be vanquished; Disease by the formation of a new health service; Idleness by the Government aspiring for full employment; Ignorance by reform of the educational system and squalor by a new house-building programme. ‘’The 5th of July was the appointed day when the welfare state began.’’ (Walsh. M, Stephens, P, Moore. S 2000) An important feature was a Government run system of ‘compulsory insurance’ known as ‘The National Insurance Act’ which was used to tackle ‘want’. This was where at the end of every workers month or week; they would submit a percentage of their wage towards helping to pay out benefits to those who needed it, such as unemployed or sick people, or people who had sustained injuries whilst at work. This insurance would also pay out pensions when people reached retirement. Benefits were set at a level which would allow a family to survive. There were also benefits and grants for people in special circumstances, such as widows, or guardians of children. There was to be a marriage, maternity and death grant, the key feature of this scheme was that people who had contributed to their insurance throughout their working years could claim these benefits. However, there were a number of departures from the blueprint written in the report when the Government came to setting the Legislation. One example is that the report suggested that pensions should be eased in over 20...
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