Impact of the 1942 Beveridge Report on UK Welfare State: Policy Intervention

Impact of the 1942 Beveridge Report on UK Welfare State: Policy Intervention

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This essay will attempt to assess the impact of the 1942 Beveridge Report on the post 1945 UK welfare state. A welfare state is essentially ‘policy intervention through the state [to provide] forms of support and protection’ for all its citizens. (Alcock: 1998: 4) This means that the state will fund or provide provisions for services which are of need to its citizens. This is funded through citizens who pay taxes or National Insurance when they have active work, which in turn helps out the vulnerable members within a society. This concept is in essence designed to maintain the welfare of citizens from birth to the grave.
The notion of overseeing welfare wasn’t always the case in the UK. Before this the ‘Poor Law’ was operated. (1598-1948) This consisted on a basis that the poor amongst society were essentially a problem of their own making and in turn needed to be punished because of this. ‘Those without jobs were lazy, feckless or in some other way delinquent’ (Coats: 34: 2012) Welfare was deemed to be a privilege, a goodwill gesture from the rich to the poor. Harsh living conditions and the punishments were seen as motivation for the poor to strive to improve their own lives.
There was a growing sense that the poor did not deserve assistance and so in 1834 the ‘Poor Law Amendment Act’ was introduced. This was designed to make conditions more severe and to even further force self-improvement amongst the poor. ‘The central objective…was to withdraw poor relief from men judged ‘able-bodied’ in Poor Law terminology’. (Thane: 1978: 29) Alternatives such as the work-house were introduced. The notion that you should only ask for help if you desperately needed it as a last resource loomed. The Charity Organisation Society was ‘a body w...

... middle of paper ... The Smith Institute.
Blackburn, S (1995) 'How useful are feminist theories of the welfare state?’ Women's History Review, 4(3), pp. 369-394.
Webster, C (1992) 'Beveridge after 50 years', BMJ, 305, pp. 901-902.
Tomlinson, J (1998) 'Why so austere? The British Welfare State of the 1940s', Journal Social Policy, 27(1), pp. 63-77.
BBC (2014) Beveridge's Five Giants, Available at: (Accessed: 20/03/2014).
Page, R M (2008) 'Towards a ‘red’ and pleasant land? The attack on poverty and the pursuit of social justice in the Attlee era, 1945-51', Benefits, 16(2), pp. 125-33.
Thane, P (1978) 'Women & the Poor Law in Victorian & Edwardian England', History Workshop, 6(1), pp. 29+31-51.
Alcock, P. Erskine, A. and May, M (1998) The Student’s Companion to Social Policy, 2nd Edition, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing

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