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Home > History > Labour governments 1945 to 1951 > Impact of reforms

History

Impact of reforms

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The effectiveness of the Labour reforms 1945-51

Between 1945 and 1951 the Labour Government passed a series of measures which some people call the welfare state. This means that the government or state takes on the responsibility of looking after the well-being or welfare of all its citizens throughout their lifetime, identifying times of potential need and dealing appropriately with these.

The measures were designed to help people 'from the cradle to the grave' and arguably they were the most far-reaching measures which any government had taken in the field of social reform. These social reforms attempted to deal with the 'Five Giants' which had been identified by William Beveridge in his report of December 1942 and which were Want, Disease, Squalor, Ignorance and Idleness.

By 1948, the 'Five Giants' were under severe attack. The state was now providing a 'safety net' which protected all sections of society 'from the cradle to the grave' against the 'Five Giants.' When Seebohm Rowntree investigated social conditions in York in 1950 he found that primary poverty had gone down to 2% compared to 36% in 1936.

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