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 which coordinated voluntary action to relieve poverty’, this worked in conjunction with the Poor Law Amendment Act and its ideologies corresponded with the growing notion that the solution was hard work and determination. (Alcock: 1998: 4)
During the 1920s, the United Kingdom witnessed a major sea change when an interventionist state began to seep through and the idea that the poor or ‘paupers’ as they were known should have some rights within society. New policies were brought into place which saw the beginnings of a welfare state. These policies included improved housing legislation and a free education which was deemed compulsory.
As time went on, economic situations in the United Kingdom changed with the growth of the industrial revolution, it was now the world’s largest power house. It was the leading economic country and also had the largest military power. Many jobs had been created but populations has risen dramatically. The state began to realise that with the looming threat of war they would need a strong and healthy workforce that would be able to keep up with the endless struggles that war came with. This brought about a sense of solidarity.
On the 1st of December 1942, the coalition government published a...