• Beveridge and the Welfare State

    Beveridge and the Welfare State



    (post-war period = 1945-1951)

    The WWII opened up new horizons for the working class who had paid a hard price for its participation in the war. When the war period came to an end, there was a need for change injustice and differences marking the British society before WWII had to be erased. So socialism began developing, creating interfence with the economy and the government. Ideas came out of the two major parties represented by Lord Beveridge and John M. Keynes who are today seen as the fathers of post-war social consensus in Great Britain. Keynes provided the justification for the increase of governmental internventions, and argued in favor of market economics to stimulate production. Beveridge wrote the 1942 report and argued in favor of « full-employment for a free society ». He also argued in favor of a series of practical reform such as the Universal Social Protection that would protect each British citizen against « interruption of distruction of earning power ». Ideas of more state intervention in society increasingly develop. The need to provide a Comprehensive System of Health Care lead the foundations of the British Welfare State.


    > How does the Beveridge report present the question of personal initiative ?

    His view is on paragraph 2. The Beveridge report proposed universal contributory social insurance for all, which he saw as offering a foundation for personnal freedom and individual initiative. Because it's stressed the reciprocity of contribution and benefits (everybody would pay and everybody would receive) and most importantly collective risk-sharing (because everybody would contribute) accross the whole population. Paragraph 2 : « The plan leaves room and encouragement to all indiviuals to win for themselves something above the national minimum, to find and to satisfy and to produce the means of satisfying new and higher needs than bare physical needs ».


    > What are the « five giants » and how are they connected to each other ?

    Paragraph 3.

    Beveridge in this report recommends that the government should find ways of fighting the five giants (or five evils) of Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor, Idleness. To defeat these 5 giants he proposed setting up a Welfare State with Social Security, a National Health Service, Free Education, Council Housing (HLM in France), and Full-employment.

    It's a vicious circle : they are linked, so they have to treat all the problems at once, or it will be a problem again.


    > What advantages to the country do such reforms present according to the report ?

    The advantages to the country that such reforms present are : paragraph 5 « to make the best possible use of whatever ressources are available » ; paragraph 7 « a sense of national unity ». His report will bring justice, everybody will be helped by the state, be given a chance to succeed in life.


    > How are the measures proposed in the report affected by the fact that it is wartime ?

    Most historians see the WWII as the accelerator of social change. And the developpement proposed by the Beveridge report was seen as the direct result of the social upheaval caused by the conflict.

    « The decisive event in the evolution of the welfare state was the WWII which challenged the British people to round off the system of social security. The was speeded changes and left a country markedly different and markedly more humane and civilized than in 1939. »

    Sacrifices, hardships, rationing that the British people experiencied during the war encouraged the abolition of privileges.


    > What does this contemporary cartoon suggest about the Welfare State ?

    Reflect the conservative party vision of the Welfare state. They were very critical of the Welfare state, especially by Thatcher, and she accused it to be nearly a nanny state encouraging dependance and idleness. Lord Keith Joseph declare : « War is the mid-wife of socialism ».

    In the straight after war, labour goverment tried to make a set of laws was inspired by the universal social protection and beveridge with precises aims.

    1. To guarantee a better standard of living for all British citizens. [Want] 1946 : National Insurance Act set up a universal social security scheme. 1948 : National Assistance Act (for those who did not receive the first act would receive this one).

    2. To provide against accidents/ill-health. [Disease] 1948 : Industrial Injuries Act. 1946 : National Health service Act provided medical services.

    3. To improve people's slum. [Squalor] 1946 : New Towns Act. The Housing Act. 1947 : The Town and Country planning Act.

    4. To provide help in the education of children. [Ignorance] 1944 : The Education Act → measures implemented in 1945 by the Labour government. 1945 : The Family Allowances Act.

    5. To provide work. [Idleness] A rise in public expenditure. The Labour government succeeded to maintain employment rate. Following the principles of Keynes, the government took control of certain industries (iron, steel).

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