The Beveridge Report

William Beveridge
William Beveridge was the driving force behind the Welfare State

More than any other person, William Beveridge's name is associated with the setting up of a blueprint for the post war Welfare State.

Beveridge was a social policy expert. He had worked with the Liberal government at the start of the 1900s, helping to develop their social policies and reforms.

During the war, Beveridge was appointed as head of a committee charged with investigating social security in Britain.

The Five Giants

The committee led by Beveridge identified five major problems which prevented people from escaping poverty or bettering themselves:

  • Disease (caused by inadequate health care provision)
  • Want (caused by poverty)
  • Squalor (caused by poor housing)
  • Ignorance (caused by a lack of education)
  • Idleness (caused by a lack of jobs, or the ability to gain employment)

The committee’s Report on Social Insurance and Allied Services was published in December 1942. It became known as the Beveridge Report and included a number of recommendations:

  • a single weekly contribution was to be made to a state insurance fund by people in work. The contribution would be the same for all citizens
  • the unemployed would receive payments for as long as needed
  • old age pensions, maternity grants, funeral grants, pensions for widows and for people injured at work were introduced or improved
  • the provision of Family Allowances
  • a new National Health Service was to be established

The challenge of addressing the ‘Five Giants’ led to the establishment of the Welfare State under the Labour government.