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The State of Welfare

Jane Garvey and Julian Worricker present a special programme marking the 70th anniversary of William Beveridge's ground-breaking report which founded the welfare state.

Seventy years ago William Beveridge wrote a report that was to lay the foundations for the welfare state. He identified the Five Giants that society needed to slay: Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness. Using archive from the time, Jane Garvey and Julian Worricker take us back to that extraordinary moment in wartime Britain that has proved so pivotal to the shape of the welfare state today. They discuss how well the system serves those who rely it on it now - and those who pay for it. Changing attitudes to those on benefits are reflected in a new BBC-commissioned poll and and we hear three radical visions for how welfare should be provided in the future. There'll be tough debate on fairness, entitlement, rights and compassion with Frank Field, Labour MP, the philosopher Roger Scruton and social commentator Polly Toynbee. The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith will be challenged to outline the philosophy behind his decisions on reforming the welfare state, as well as responding to the views of contributors and listeners.

Producers:Elaine Lester, Sharmini Selvarajah
Editor:Andrew Smith.

Available now

2 hours, 55 minutes

Last on

Sun 2 Dec 2012 20:00


  • Introduction

    Should we still expect the state to look after us?

    Duration: 09:35

  • History

    Who was William Beveridge and what was his report?

    Duration: 21:00

  • Memories, money, life on benefits and poll results

    What is it like to live on benefits and the economics of the welfare state?

    Duration: 27:20

  • Values discussion

    What principles should the welfare state follow when helping those in need?

    Duration: 20:45

  • Beveridge for 2012

    New visions for the welfare state

    Duration: 36:15

  • Phone in Part 1

    Your calls and Liam Byrne MP, Shadow Work and Pensions Sec.

    Duration: 24:49

  • Phone in Part 2

    You calls and Iain Duncan Smith MP, Work and Pensions Sec.

    Duration: 26:55

To contact the programme

You can contact us by email at or via twitter at #R4welfare or by calling us on 03700 100 444.  Lines are open from 0900 on Tuesday November 27th. Costs will be the same as for calls to an 01 or 02 number.

Welfare vision: Frances O'Grady

Welfare vision: Frances O'Grady

The TUC's General Secretary Designate outlines her vision for a reformed welfare state.

Welfare vision: James Bartholomew

Welfare vision: James Bartholomew

James Bartholomew - author of The Welfare State We're In - outlines his vision for a reformed welfare state.

Welfare vision: Julia Slay

Welfare vision: Julia Slay

Julia Slay from The New Economics Foundation outlines her vision for a reformed welfare state.


  • Tue 27 Nov 2012 10:00
  • Tue 27 Nov 2012 11:00
  • Tue 27 Nov 2012 12:04
  • Sun 2 Dec 2012 20:00