The Beveridge Report

William Beveridge
William Beveridge

William Beveridge was a social policy expert who 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 asked to investigate social security in Britain.

The Five Giants

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

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

The Report

The Committee’s Report on Social Insurance and Allied Services was published in December 1942. It became known as the Beveridge Report.

It contained a number of recommendations:

  • A standard weekly payment be made by people in work - this was to contribute to an insurance fund.
  • 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 be 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.

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