Informe Beveridge

Informe Beveridge


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La Segunda Guerra Mundial ayudó a crear una unidad notable entre el pueblo británico. La mayoría de la gente sintió que la única forma de derrotar a la Alemania nazi era permanecer unidos con firmeza. La unidad se expresó más claramente en su disposición a aceptar los sacrificios de guerra impuestos por Winston Churchill y su gobierno de coalición. Entre 1940 y 1945, el gobierno británico incluía a miembros de los tres principales grupos políticos: el Partido Conservador, el Partido Laborista y el Partido Liberal.

Había un fuerte sentimiento de que el pueblo británico debería ser recompensado por su sacrificio y resolución. Para alentar al pueblo británico a continuar su lucha contra los poderes del eje, el gobierno prometió reformas que crearían una sociedad más igualitaria. El primero de ellos fue la Ley de Educación de 1944. Esta medida elevó la edad de finalización de la escuela a 15 y proporcionó educación secundaria gratuita para todos los niños.

El gobierno británico también pidió a Sir William Beveridge que redactara un informe sobre las mejores formas de ayudar a las personas de bajos ingresos. En diciembre de 1942, Beveridge publicó un informe en el que proponía que todas las personas en edad de trabajar debían pagar una cotización semanal. A cambio, se pagarían prestaciones a las personas que estuvieran enfermas, desempleadas, jubiladas o viudas. Beveridge argumentó que este sistema proporcionaría un nivel de vida mínimo "por debajo del cual no se debería permitir que caiga nadie". Estas medidas fueron finalmente introducidas por el gobierno laborista que fue elegido en 1945.

Sir William Beveridge, miembro del Partido Liberal, fue elegido miembro de la Cámara de los Comunes en 1944. Al año siguiente, el nuevo gobierno laborista inició el proceso de implementación de las propuestas de Beveridge que sentaron las bases del moderno estado de bienestar.

Subestimaron su Beveridge. Con solo un pequeño personal para ayudarlo, produjo uno de los documentos más grandes y revolucionarios de nuestra historia social. Ciertamente no fue culpable de subestimar su logro. Cuando presentó su informe poco más de un año después, me dijo modestamente: Este es el mayor avance de nuestra historia. No puede haber marcha atrás. A partir de ahora, Beveridge no es el nombre de un hombre; es el nombre de una forma de vida y no solo para Gran Bretaña, sino para todo el mundo civilizado ”.

Había presentado a sus detractores un informe muy vergonzoso y progresista, aceptado rápidamente como modelo para la Gran Bretaña de la posguerra. Fue aprovechado en el Parlamento. Se convirtió, por primera vez, no en un experto de Whitehall, sino en una figura nacional, de alguna manera el presagio del tipo de mundo de posguerra que la gente quería ver. La opinión pública obligó a que el Parlamento aprobara su informe.

Beveridge fue un genio administrativo, probablemente sin paralelo en este siglo. Póngale un problema: el racionamiento de alimentos en la Primera Guerra Mundial; la convocatoria y el racionamiento de combustible en la Segunda Guerra Mundial, y se retiraba a una pequeña habitación y presentaba una respuesta. Pero como administrador práctico fue un desastre, debido a su arrogancia y rudeza con los designados para trabajar con él y su total incapacidad para delegar. Los pocos asistentes de investigación, incluido el actual escritor, que se quedaron con él, mordiendo la bala, lo encontraron inspirador y constructivo en la investigación, imposible en las relaciones personales.

El esquema de seguridad social de Beveridge todavía está en debate. El gobierno ya ha propuesto la adopción de la mayor parte del mismo, pero una enmienda laborista en la Cámara de los Comunes exigiendo la adopción del esquema en su totalidad recibió hasta 117 votos que han hablado del esquema Beveridge en comentarios de noticias anteriores y don ' Si quiero volver a detallar sus disposiciones, me limito a mencionar el debate que se está llevando a cabo para enfatizar dos cosas. Una es que, pase lo que pase, las asignaciones familiares seguramente se adoptarán, aunque aún no se sabe con certeza en qué escala. La otra es que el principio del seguro social ha llegado para quedarse y ni siquiera los pensadores más reaccionarios de Gran Bretaña se atreverían ahora a oponerse a esto. El esquema de Beveridge puede finalmente adoptarse en una forma algo mutilada, pero es un logro incluso debatir algo así en medio de una guerra desesperada en la que todavía estamos luchando por sobrevivir.

La Cámara de los Comunes ha dicho lo que dice. No ha rechazado precisamente el Informe Beveridge; de ​​hecho, en lo que respecta a las palabras, le dio una especie de bienvenida. Ni siquiera ha matado del todo al Informe. Ha hecho algo diferente. Lo ha fileteado. Ha eliminado la columna vertebral y la estructura ósea. Ha sumado las raciones que quedan y nos ha asegurado que ascienden al 70%. Dieciséis porciones de veintitrés según el cálculo de Herbert Morrison, y la única condición adjunta es que ninguna de estas porciones está definitivamente garantizada. Los oponentes del Informe, desde Sir John Anderson hasta Sir Herbert Williams, hablaron como si la base del Informe fuera un intento de obtener dinero de los ricos en nombre de los pobres que no lo merecen del todo.

Si. Puede que estén dispuestos a dar algo. Reconocieron la justicia del reclamo. Pero no todo lo que se preguntó. Y ciertamente no ahora. Y, sobre todo, no pudieron hacer promesas de futuro. Sir Arnold Gridley se preguntó "¿cómo se define la necesidad? ¿Se puede cubrir necesariamente con una suma monetaria específica? La familia de un hombre trabajador y ahorrativo puede vivir sin necesidad, tal vez con 3 libras a la semana, mientras que la familia de un el hombre que malgasta su dinero o lo gasta en bebidas o juegos de azar, puede ser muy difícil si su salario es de 5 o 6 libras a la semana ".

El temor de que los niños pequeños o los jubilados se tomen a beber o al juego es muy real para grandes sectores del Partido Conservador.

Sir lan Fraser felicitó al Canciller por haber "hecho algo muy difícil". Había llamado a la Casa de regreso "desde el elegante país de las hadas en el que le encanta disfrutar, a la realidad, y por lo tanto nos prestó un gran servicio a todos". Más adelante en su discurso, Sir LAN llevó la tergiversación al punto de la manía. Al oponerse al plan de Sir William de hacer que el seguro sea obligatorio y nacional, a fin de reducir el costo de recaudación a una fracción, declaró que el objetivo de Sir William al hacer esto era "robar un activo de capital para obtener algunos ingresos para su plan". .

Finalmente, Sir Herbert Williams sacó de su propia bolsa privada al gato más grande liberado en el piso de la Cámara de los Comunes desde que Baldwin explicó por qué tuvo que pelear las elecciones de 1935 con una mentira. Lo hizo con las palabras "Si el plan se pospone hasta seis meses después de la terminación de las hostilidades, la entonces Cámara de los Comunes lo rechazará por una gran mayoría". Exactamente. Si no ponemos los cimientos de una nueva Gran Bretaña mientras la guerra está en marcha, nunca los conseguiremos. Sir Herbert Williams y otros del mismo tipo, o casi del mismo tipo, se encargarán de eso. Por una indiscreción tan grande, el Partido Conservador debería destituir a Sir Herbert instantáneamente.

Estas llorosas objeciones se citan con un solo propósito: mostrar el bajo nivel en el que los oponentes del Informe decidieron llevar a cabo la batalla. Lucharon en el nivel de Poor Law, el nivel de tres medio penique, nueve peniques por cuatro peniques, Kingsley Wood y Means Test. La gente común de este país pedía más de lo que sus directores y controladores decidían darles. Podían volver a donde pertenecían y decir gracias, las misericordias no eran menores.

El Plan Beveridge recibió tanta publicidad con el único propósito de demostrar al mundo la pretensión de liderazgo de Gran Bretaña en la esfera social. En Europa no ha habido más que risas por este intento. Ahora resulta que toda la farsa de Beveridge tiene pies de barro. El vino del entusiasmo de los izquierdistas británicos ha sido diluido por expertos en seguros, médicos, funcionarios jubilados y grandes empresarios. No quedará nada del régimen social global, salvo la garantía de una subvención estatal para el tratamiento veterinario de perros y gatos.

Día de Beveridge. Pasé la mayor parte en la Casa y vi crecer la revuelta. Los Whips están mal informados, insensibles a las opiniones y los rumores: y ahora echamos de menos al muy maltratado Margesson. Herbert Morrison terminó para el gobierno en un discurso equilibrado, inteligente y elocuente que reveló su creciente conservadurismo: ¿era una apuesta por el liderazgo futuro de un gobierno de coalición? La concurrida Cámara escuchó con interés e incluso los socialistas más agresivos, aunque más tarde se prepararon para votar en contra de sus líderes, fueron demasiado cobardes para atacar a Morrison.

En diciembre de 1942, Sir William Beveridge era el máster del University College de Oxford. Después de una exitosa carrera en el servicio civil, fue nombrado director de la London School of Economics, permaneciendo allí desde 1919 hasta 1937, cuando se mudó a Oxford. Su preocupación por los problemas sociales había durado toda su vida, desde sus primeros días como trabajador social de Toynbee Hall y protegido de Sidney y Beatrice Webb alrededor de 1905, hasta su nombramiento en 1934 como presidente de un comité gubernamental sobre seguro de desempleo. Durante las primeras semanas de la guerra, en un artículo publicado en Los tiempos había pedido una planificación a gran escala de la economía en tiempos de guerra, y sus convicciones se habían visto fortalecidas por lo que había visto desde 1940, en su papel de funcionario temporal en el Ministerio de Trabajo, de la falta de organización de la mano de obra como él pensaba. debería estar organizado.

La oportunidad que llevaría a Beveridge a una fama mucho más que instantánea se le había presentado de manera bastante discreta, en mayo de 1941, con su nombramiento como presidente de un comité interdepartamental, cuya misión consistía en preparar "un estudio de los planes existentes de seguro social". y servicios afines, incluida la indemnización por accidentes de trabajo, y hacer recomendaciones ". Una forma bastante inocente de mantener ocupado a un cuerpo de altos funcionarios, al parecer; sin embargo, de este modesto capullo surgiría un plan para establecer la seguridad total para todos los ciudadanos británicos "desde la cuna hasta la tumba", y sentar las bases prácticas para el estado de bienestar de la posguerra. Este fue el renombrado Informe Beveridge.

Los activos de su autor para la redacción del informe fueron una inmensa capacidad de trabajo duro, fuertes convicciones y un conocimiento profundo de su inmensamente complejo tema. También fue, dentro de los límites establecidos por su carácter, un hábil político

manipulador cuya experiencia de Whitehall desde el interior, comprensión de los políticos y evaluación astuta del efecto de la opinión popular y del apoyo de la prensa en la difusión de su trabajo, le sería muy útil. Sin embargo, un serio obstáculo en su camino residía en cierto aspecto de su carácter. Llevaba más de veinte años en puestos de autoridad y su seguridad cortés de su propia superioridad, convirtiéndose rápidamente en irritación si se le desafiaba de alguna manera, alienó a muchos de aquellos cuyo respaldo más necesitaba. De hecho, la hostilidad que sus modales provocaron bien podría haber destruido el efecto de todo su valioso trabajo, de no haber sido por una gran fortuna en lo que respecta al momento oportuno.


Deseo, enfermedad, ignorancia, miseria y holgazanería: ¿han vuelto los cinco males de Beveridge?

E ste noviembre marca el 75 aniversario del informe Beveridge, el documento fundacional del moderno estado de bienestar y la respuesta a la pregunta: ¿qué haría Clement Attlee? La agenda radical del gobierno de Attlee, después de todo, básicamente promulgó todas las recomendaciones hechas por el excéntrico reformador liberal patricio Sir William Beveridge, quien excedió su simple mandato - de examinar los programas de seguridad social del país - con una amplia gama de sugerencias destinadas a erradicar lo que él llamó la cinco “males gigantes”: miseria, enfermedad, ignorancia, miseria y holgazanería.

Independientemente de lo que Attlee pensara de él, Beveridge no era socialista. Pensó que quitar la carga de los costos de la atención médica y las pensiones a las corporaciones e individuos y dárselos al gobierno aumentaría la competitividad de la industria británica al tiempo que produciría trabajadores más saludables, más ricos, más motivados y más productivos deseosos de comprar productos británicos.

Y tenía razón. El período sostenido de crecimiento económico posterior a la segunda guerra mundial y casi pleno empleo que duró hasta finales de la década de 1970 vio la caída de la pobreza, la eliminación de los barrios marginales, la fundación de un servicio de salud gratuito y un sistema educativo junto con el aumento de los ingresos reales y la disminución de la desigualdad, que, a su vez, generó mayores ingresos fiscales y ayudó al Reino Unido a pagar sus deudas de guerra. En 1950, Seebohm Rowntree, que había realizado una encuesta sobre la pobreza en York en 1899 y 1936, llegó a la conclusión de que el problema se había borrado en gran medida.

Setenta y cinco años después, sin embargo, el buen trabajo realizado por el Informe Beveridge corre grave peligro de deshacerse por completo. Los "cinco gigantes" están volviendo a la corriente principal de nuestra vida diaria. Mientras lo hacen, nuestra productividad se derrumba por el suelo. Las cifras de todo el año para 2015 muestran la brecha de productividad del Reino Unido con otros países en su peor momento desde que comenzaron los registros modernos. ¿Qué encontraría Beveridge si tuviera que informar hoy?


Annette Beveridge

En octubre de 1872 zarpó hacia la India británica. Alrededor de 1875 se vio envuelta en una controversia pública con Keshub Chandra Sen, un filósofo y reformador social indio que intentó incorporar la teología cristiana en el marco del pensamiento hindú. Akroyd se sorprendió por sus discusiones con él y sintió que Sen, quien habló a favor de la educación de las mujeres en Inglaterra, era una típica oscurantista hindú en su país de origen en la India, que intentaba ocultar el conocimiento de las mentes de las mujeres. [4] Esta disputa se derramó en la prensa nativa y tuvo su impacto en la Escuela Bethune. Akroyd también estaba consternado con los asociados de Sen, como Bijoy Krishna Goswami, Aghore Nath Gupta y Gour Govinda Ray, quienes eran tradicionalmente hindúes en educación y se resistían a la educación de las mujeres.

"El Sr. Sen tenía un fuerte prejuicio contra la educación universitaria, de hecho, contra lo que generalmente se considera educación superior, de las mujeres. Se opuso a enseñarles, por ejemplo, materias como Matemáticas, Filosofía y Ciencias, mientras que el partido avanzado positivamente Querían dar a sus hijas y hermanas lo que generalmente se considera una educación superior. No se opusieron a su educación universitaria y no estaban dispuestas a hacer mucha diferencia en el punto de educación entre hombres y mujeres. No había esperanza de compromiso entre dos tan extremos En consecuencia, el partido radical procedió a iniciar una escuela femenina separada, llamada Mahila Vidyalaya hindú, para la educación de las jóvenes adultas pertenecientes a su partido. La escuela con la señorita Akroyd, posteriormente la señora Beveridge, atrajo mucha atención pública y fue muy elogiada por los funcionarios del gobierno. Esta escuela hizo un excelente w ork durante muchos años y posteriormente se llevó a cabo bajo el nombre de Banga Mahila Vidyalaya y finalmente se fusionó con el Bethune College para damas, al que proporcionó algunos de sus estudiantes más distinguidos ". [5]

Annette Beveridge tradujo los diarios del primer emperador mogol Babur, el Baburnama, y ​​lo publicó en cuatro libros desde 1912 hasta 1922. Utilizó fuentes tanto persas como turcas. [6] [7]

También tradujo la biografía del segundo emperador mogol, Humayun, del persa al inglés. Las memorias habían sido escritas por su hermana Gulbadan Begum, a quien Beveridge llamaba cariñosamente "Princesa Rosebud". [8] [9] Sus otras obras traducidas incluyen La llave del corazón de los principiantes., 1908.

La pareja tuvo dos hijos: una hija, Annette Jeanie Beveridge (m. 1956), que fue al Somerville College, Oxford en 1899 y se casó con RH Tawney, [11] y un hijo, William Beveridge (1879-1963), un destacado economista que dio su nombre al informe asociado a la fundación del estado del bienestar. [12]


El Informe Beveridge y los fundamentos del Estado de Bienestar

Portada del Informe Beveridge, 1942. Referencia del catálogo: PREM 4/89/2

& # 8216Ahora, cuando la guerra está aboliendo los puntos de referencia de todo tipo, es la oportunidad de utilizar la experiencia en un campo claro. Un momento revolucionario en la historia del mundo & # 8217 es un momento de revoluciones, no de parches. & # 8217

Este fue el llamado de atención de Sir William Beveridge al Parlamento para establecer un sistema integral de seguro social para la población de Gran Bretaña en su informe. Seguro social y servicios afines, mejor conocido como el Informe Beveridge, que se presentó al Parlamento el 24 de noviembre de 1942 y este año cumple 75 años.

Los cinco grandes males

los Informe Beveridge, para citar al canciller conservador Kingsley Wood, es & # 8216lengthy & # 8217 1, un estudio detallado del estado del bienestar en Gran Bretaña y su dirección futura sugerida.

En el centro del informe estaba el decreto de Beveridge de que las acciones futuras para mejorar el seguro social, los pasos en el camino del & # 8216 progreso social & # 8217, no deberían verse obstaculizados por ningún & # 8216 intereses seccionales & # 8217 & # 8211, sino que el gobierno debería trabajar para abolir los & # 8216Cinco grandes males & # 8217 que asolaron a la sociedad: Deseo, Enfermedad, Ignorancia, Miseria y Ociosidad. 2.

El Tesoro, en el momento de la ReporteLa redacción de & # 8216s, caracterizó a estos & # 8216Evils & # 8217 como poseedores de un & # 8216 orden creciente de fuerza y ​​ferocidad & # 8217 y Beveridge estuvo de acuerdo, diciendo que Want era de alguna manera el más fácil de atacar de estos gigantes. De hecho, si bien su informe planteó las perspectivas de reformas educativas para combatir la ignorancia, la ola de viviendas municipales de la posguerra que haría tanto para combatir la miseria y la perspectiva de una economía de pleno empleo que elimine la ociosidad, el Reporte se planteó simplemente como el primer paso en el camino del & # 8216 progreso social & # 8217 hacia una sociedad libre de estos males.

En el corazón del plan de Beveridge para librar a Gran Bretaña de Want y sus compañeros estaba un sistema integral de seguridad social y bienestar: beneficios universales para que las familias nunca & # 8216 carezcan de los medios de subsistencia saludable & # 8217 por falta de trabajo o ingresos. Beveridge encargó al estado que estableciera un & # 8216nimo nacional & # 8217, una red de seguridad por debajo de la cual nadie pudiera caer. Un elemento central de su plan era un sistema contributivo que daría derecho a la población a prestaciones por maternidad, hijos y desempleo, pensiones estatales y subsidios funerarios. Respaldar todo esto sería un sistema de atención médica universal gratuito en el punto de uso, para cuidar la salud de la nación independientemente de las circunstancias personales.

Pobreza de preguerra

La gente en Gran Bretaña, por supuesto, enfrentó privaciones y dificultades increíbles durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial mientras Beveridge escribía su informe: racionamiento, ataques aéreos, una contribución nacional al esfuerzo de guerra gigante, pero Beveridge & # 8217s Reporte también fue escrito para asegurar que la terrible pobreza que muchos en Gran Bretaña experimentaron en las décadas económicamente deprimidas entre la Primera y la Segunda Guerra Mundial nunca regresara.

Los documentos de los Archivos Nacionales nos dan una idea de los niveles de pobreza que enfrentaron las personas durante este período.

En 1936, tres años antes de la guerra, la Junta de Asistencia para el Desempleo encargó al Pilgrim Trust que investigara los efectos del desempleo de larga duración en las personas. Las descripciones de las vidas de quienes viven en la pobreza, que se encuentran en el registro de los Archivos Nacionales AST 7/255, son desgarradoras.

Cifras de la Investigación de The Pilgrim Trust sobre el desempleo de larga duración, 1936-1938, que examinan casos de & # 8216 psico-neurosis & # 8217 en personas desempleadas de larga duración. Catalogye referencia: AST 7/255

El informe, basado en entrevistas con desempleados en varias ciudades diferentes, da una idea del ciclo semanal de la vida empobrecida, centrado en el día en que se distribuye la asistencia por desempleo: una o dos comidas adecuadas a la semana seguidas solo de té y pan. , viajes de ida y vuelta a la casa de empeño, un ciclo en el que, & # 8216, no quedan unos pocos centavos al final de la semana, pero faltan unos pocos centavos & # 8217. Incluye descripciones de familias de cuatro o cinco personas que viven en una habitación sucia rodeadas de & # 8216 ropa de cama sucia y un olor indescriptiblemente horrible & # 8217. Hay detalles de los efectos físicos y mentales del desempleo crónico: hombres y mujeres desnutridos, hombres que se encuentran & # 8216listless & # 8217 y deprimidos por su inactividad forzada. En este contexto, Beveridge formuló sus recomendaciones.

Preocupaciones del gabinete

A pesar de la obvia necesidad de una revisión de la seguridad social para evitar que tales dificultades se repitan, el alcance transformador del informe Beveridge & # 8217s y los compromisos políticos y económicos que implicaría su adopción aún fueron una sorpresa para el gabinete, particularmente Winston Churchill y su conservador más cercano. ministros, que tenían dudas sobre la viabilidad de los esquemas propuestos por Beveridge.

Churchill recibió una copia del informe el 11 de noviembre de 1942, pero sin duda estaba bastante ocupado conduciendo la guerra, por lo que instruyó al canciller Kingsley Wood para que tuviera un preliminar inmediato. breve informe hecho sobre esto para mí & # 8217. Pronto recibió las observaciones críticas de Wood & # 8217 & # 8216 & # 8217, así como comentarios de su amigo cercano y asesor Lord Cherwell.

Estos dos informes resumen la recepción inicial de las ideas de Beveridge & # 8217 recibidas del círculo íntimo de Prime Minster & # 8217. Wood describió el plan como & # 8216 ambicioso & # 8217, pero le preocupaba que implicara & # 8216 un compromiso financiero impracticable & # 8217. Wood dijo que & # 8216 la abolición de la necesidad & # 8217 era un objetivo admirable que tendría & # 8216 un gran atractivo popular & # 8217, pero le preocupaba que el plan de Beveridge & # 8217 estuviera & # 8216 basado en un razonamiento falaz & # 8217.

Wood también planteó una serie de preocupaciones sobre el rechazo de varias industrias afectadas por la Reporte& # 8216s recomendaciones. ¿Los médicos darían su consentimiento para ser empleados estatales? ¿Cuál sería la reacción de las sociedades de garantía industrial cuando el Estado asumiera su papel? ¿Cómo se sentirían los empleadores al tener que hacer contribuciones para los desempleados? También estaba preocupado por la naturaleza universal, sin comprobación de recursos, de los beneficios propuestos por Beveridge & # 8217, y comentó secamente que:

& # 8216 El avance semanal del millonario a la oficina de correos para su pensión de vejez tendría un elemento de farsa por el hecho de que la pensión la proporciona en gran medida el contribuyente general. & # 8217

Wood, así como Cherwell, también expresaron su preocupación sobre cómo los Estados Unidos (que estaban financiando en gran medida los esfuerzos bélicos de Gran Bretaña en este momento) reaccionarían a propuestas tan audaces para la provisión estatal de un país tan financieramente bajado por todos. -consumir la guerra. Cherwell señaló que la población estadounidense podría sentirse ofendida por financiar la creación de un estado de bienestar mucho más generoso que el suyo. A Wood le preocupaba que pareciera que Gran Bretaña estaba & # 8216 comprometida en dividir el botín mientras ellos [Estados Unidos] asumen la carga principal de la guerra & # 8217.

Para concluir, Wood expresa la actitud cautelosa del Reporte inicialmente provocado, comentando:

& # 8216Muchos en este país se han convencido a sí mismos de que el cese de las hostilidades marcará el inicio de una Edad de Oro: (muchos también estaban tan persuadidos la última vez). Sea como sea, el momento de declarar un dividendo sobre las ganancias de la Edad de Oro es el momento en que esas ganancias se han realizado de hecho, no meramente en la imaginación. & # 8217 3

& # 8220 & # 8220 & # 39; Una vez publicado, puede ladrar hasta el contenido de su corazón & # 8221 & # 8211 Winston Churchill & # 8217s minuto sobre si se debe permitir a Beveridge hablar sobre su informe. Referencia del catálogo: PREM 4/89/2

Como resultado de esta cautela, hubo mucha preocupación en torno a la publicidad que recibiría el informe y, en particular, en torno al propio Beveridge hablando sobre él y promoviendo sus ideas. Incluso antes de que se publicara el informe, hubo filtraciones a la prensa sobre su contenido, y a los miembros del gabinete les preocupaba que los aliados de Beveridge estuvieran preparando el terreno para garantizar que las ideas de sus amigos no pudieran ser ignoradas. & # 8216 Los amigos de Beveridge están jugando a la política & # 8217, el ministro conservador de Información, Brendan Bracken, escribió a Churchill en octubre de 1942, & # 8216, y cuando llegue el informe habrá un inmenso alboroto sobre la importancia de implementar las recomendaciones sin demora & # 8217 .

Para tratar de evitar esto, Cabinet resolvió que se prohibiría a Beveridge hablar sobre su Reporte, o sus ideas, antes o el día de su presentación al Parlamento, y quizás después. Beveridge protestó, diciendo que se le debía permitir hablar sobre su trabajo. Churchill cedió, diciendo que después de que el informe se hubiera publicado oficialmente, Beveridge podría & # 8216 ladrar al contenido de su corazón & # 8217 al respecto. 4

Las acciones de Beveridge con el gobierno disminuyeron con la publicación de su informe. El 30 de enero de 1943, Beveridge escribió a Churchill preguntándole si podía reunirse con él para discutir su futuro papel en el gobierno y también en la seguridad social. La carta de Beveridge es una de elogios efusivos: informó al primer ministro que, durante su reciente luna de miel, su esposa y él habían leído la biografía de Churchill de su antepasado, el primer duque de Marlborough. Beveridge informó a Churchill que el libro debería ser & # 8216 lectura obligatoria para estadistas de todos los países & # 8230. He anotado al menos una docena de pasajes pronósticos que deberían aprender de memoria & # 8217.

Sin embargo, Beveridge tuvo que esperar más de quince días para recibir una respuesta de Churchill y, cuando llegó, expresó la frialdad del primer ministro hacia el hombre cuyo informe lo había puesto en una posición política difícil. & # 8216Espero que en el futuro se presente la oportunidad de hablar contigo & # 8217, escribió Churchill a Beveridge, & # 8216, pero, por supuesto, tengo que prestar mi atención principal a la guerra & # 8217.

Winston Churchill rechaza la solicitud de Beveridge & # 8217 para una reunión, 16 de febrero de 1943. Referencia del catálogo: PREM 4/89/2

La reacción del público & # 8217s

Pero mientras el Informe Beveridge Los miembros del gobierno podrían haber visto con una cautela escéptica, las opiniones del público británico eran otra cosa completamente diferente y fueron decisivas para asegurar que gran parte de la visión de Beveridge para Gran Bretaña fuera promulgada.

Las encuestas y el seguimiento de la opinión pública del gobierno desde diciembre de 1942 (cuando el informe se puso a disposición del público) en adelante muestran cuán favorable fue la reacción y cuán escépticos estaban algunos de que alguna vez se cumpliera.

El Instituto Británico de Opinión Pública llevó a cabo una encuesta a nivel nacional sobre la Reporte inmediatamente después de su publicación general. Los hallazgos fueron crudos: el 95% había oído hablar de la Reporte y la gran mayoría de la población aprobó sus recomendaciones y pensó que debían ponerse en práctica, en particular el esquema de un servicio médico estatal integral. Sin embargo, mientras que las personas a pesar del plan de Beveridge & # 8217s deberían suceda, la encuesta encontró pocos que pensaban que haría ocurrir.

& # 8216 El informe Beveridge y la encuesta pública & # 8217. Referencia del catálogo: PREM 4/89/2

Durante este período, el Ministerio de Información produjo & # 8216Home Intelligence Reports & # 8217 semanales para el gobierno y estos también muestran qué tan bien Reporte fue recibido por los británicos. En una semana de diciembre de 1942, por ejemplo, el censor postal examinó 947 cartas que se habían enviado sobre el Informe Beveridge, casi todos favorables. Un escritor comentó que el plan les daría, & # 8216 a los muchachos que están luchando, algo que esperar & # 8217, mientras que otro comentó que el Reporte& # 8216s recomendaciones traerían una & # 8216 revolución social completa & # 8230 sin derramamiento de sangre & # 8217. 5

Informe de inteligencia doméstica del Ministerio de Información, 10 de diciembre de 1942. Referencia del catálogo: INF 1/292

De hecho, según el informe del 10 de diciembre (pocos días después de la Reporte estaba disponible) Beveridge & # 8217s plan fue los tema más hablado en el país. Unas semanas más tarde, se dijo que la gente estaba deseando acostarse durante las vacaciones de Navidad para realmente estudiarlo. Pero esta reacción positiva parece haber estado teñida de escepticismo y algo de ira. Los informes señalan que mucha gente pensó que las grandes empresas & # 8216 matarían & # 8217 el informe, mientras que otro censor postal encontró una carta que predecía & # 8216 problemas serios en este país después de la guerra & # 8217 si el informe no era adoptado. 6

Legado

Frente a esta reacción, el gobierno fue pragmático, reservándose su escepticismo pero haciendo un anuncio al Parlamento de que consideraría la Reporte y estaba comprometido a mejorar el seguro social, pero no contraería ningún compromiso particular en este momento. La reacción de los parlamentarios de la oposición y del público, nuevamente registrada en varios informes de inteligencia de la opinión pública, hizo que el gobierno volviera al Parlamento, esta vez haciendo declaraciones más explícitas de su intención de llevar a cabo el plan de Beveridge en la medida de lo posible.

Folleto del Servicio Nacional de Salud, 1948. Referencia del catálogo: INF 2/66

Al final, tanto el Partido Laborista como el Conservador hicieron de la adopción de un sistema integral de atención médica y seguro social parte de su plataforma en las Elecciones Generales de 1945. Clement Attlee & # 8217s Labor Party entró en el gobierno después de las elecciones, y continuó el trabajo del gobierno en tiempos de guerra para establecer el Servicio Nacional de Salud, establecido en 1948, quizás una de las partes más duraderas de la visión realizada de Beveridge & # 8217, que a su vez celebra su 70 aniversario el año que viene.

los Informe Beveridge fue concebido en el crisol de la guerra, un plan audaz para una nación que había sacrificado tanto. Setenta y cinco años después, todavía podemos ver los efectos de la & # 8216 revolución sin sangre & # 8217 que comenzó.


Historia británica 1955-1994

Origen: En las elecciones generales de 1945, los laboristas obtuvieron una victoria aplastante sobre el gobierno conservador permanente encabezado por Sir Winston Churchill. Con una mayoría general en el Parlamento, el nuevo gobierno comenzó a llevar a cabo su programa de reforma. El público británico creía que un gobierno laborista tendría más probabilidades de lograr una reforma social. Las reformas laboristas se basaron en el Informe Beveridge, por lo que comenzó abordando los cinco gigantes identificados en el Informe Beveridge.

1. Querer :
Se consideraba que la pobreza era el problema social clave que afectaba a todos los demás. Se aprobó la Ley del Seguro Nacional, que proporciona un seguro integral contra la mayoría de las eventualidades. Proporcionó prestaciones por enfermedad y desempleo, pensión de jubilación y prestaciones por viudedad y maternidad. Se dijo que se hizo una provisión social para los ciudadanos desde la "cuna hasta la tumba", atendiendo sus necesidades desde el momento del nacimiento hasta su muerte.

2. Enfermedad:
En 1946 se aprobó la Ley del Servicio Nacional de Salud que vio la introducción de un nuevo servicio de salud (El NHS). Los ciudadanos británicos pueden recibir servicios médicos, dentales y ópticos de forma gratuita. El tratamiento por médicos de cabecera y en hospitales también era gratuito. Estos beneficios eran gratuitos en el momento de su uso, y no se pidió a ningún paciente que pagara por ningún tratamiento.

3. Miseria: La mayor parte de Gran Bretaña todavía tenía barrios marginales, especialmente en Londres. El hacinamiento fue un problema grave que se agravó durante el Blitz. To deal with the problem of squalor the government concentrated on building decent homes for the working class after the war.

4. ignorance: In 1944 the war time Coalition government passed the Education act. The act was passed the Labour government but originally a Conservative government idea. The act said that secondary education shouuld become compulsory until the age of 15 years with pupils to be provided meals and medical services at every school.

5. idleness: After the war, Britain gradually rebuilt itself. The Labour Government succeeded in maintaining high levels of employment after the war. Job vacances became more readily avalible by 1946, unemployment was reduced to 2.5 %. Despite post-war problems such as shortages of raw materials and massive war debts to pay off. One way in which the government kept almost full employment was through nationalisation.


1. The Inter-departmental Committee on Social Insurance and Allied Services were appointed in June, 1941, by the Minister without Portfolio, then responsible for the consideration of reconstruction problems. The terms of reference required the Committee “to undertake, with special reference to the inter-relation of the schemes, a survey of the existing national schemes of social insurance and allied services, including workmen’s compensation and to make recommendations.” The first duty of the Committee was to survey, the second to recommend. For the reasons stated below in-paragraph 40 the duty of recommendation was confined later to the Chairman of the Committee.

The Committee’s Survey And Its Results

2. The schemes of social insurance and allied services which the Inter-departmental Committee have been called on to survey have grown piece-meal. Apart from the Poor Law, which dates from the time of Elizabeth, the schemes surveyed are the product of the last 45 years beginning with the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1897. That Act, applying in the first instance to a limited number of occupations, was made general in 1906. Compulsory health insurance began in 1912. Unemployment insurance began for a few industries in 1912 and was made general in 1920. The first Pensions Act, giving non-contributory pensions subject to a means test at the age of 70, was passed in 1908. In 1925 came the Act which started contributory pensions for old age, for widows and for orphans. Unemployment insurance, after a troubled history, was put on a fresh basis by the Unemployment Act of 1934, which set up at the same time a new national service of Unemployment Assistance. Meantime, the local machinery for relief of destitution, after having been exhaustively examined by the Royal Commission of 1905-1909, has been changed both by the new treatment of unemployment and in many other ways, including a transfer of the responsibilities of the Boards of Guardians to Local Authorities. Separate provision for special types of disability — such as blindness- — has been made from time to time. Together with this growth of social insurance and impinging on it at many points have gone developments of medical treatment, particularly in hospitals and other institutions developments of services devoted to the welfare of children, in school and before it and a vast growth of voluntary provision for death and other contingencies, made by persons of the insured classes through Industrial Life Offices, Friendly Societies and Trade Unions.

In all this change and development, each problem has been dealt with separately with little or no reference to allied problems. The first task of the Committee has been to attempt for the first time a comprehensive survey of the whole field of social insurance and allied services to show just what provision is now made and how it is made for many different forms of need. The results of this survey are set out in Appendix B describing social insurance and the allied services as they exist today in Britain. The picture presented is impressive in two ways. First, it shows that provision for most of the many varieties of need through interruption of earnings and other causes that may arise in modern industrial communities has already been made in Britain on a scale not surpassed and hardly rivalled in any other country of the world. In one respect only of the first importance, namely limitation of medical service^ both in the range of treatment which is provided as of right and in respect of the classes of persons for whom it is provided, does Britain’s achieve­ment fall seriously short of what has been accomplished elsewhere it falls short also in its provision for cash benefit for maternity and funerals and through the defects of its system for workmen’s compensation. In all other fields British provision for security, in adequacy of amount and in compre­hensiveness, will stand comparison with that of any other country few countries will stand comparison with Britain. Second, social insurance and /the allied services, as they exist today, are conducted by a complex of disconnected administrative organs, proceeding on different principles, doing invaluable service but at a cost in money and trouble and anomalous treatment of identical problems for which there is no justification. In a system of social security better on the whole than can be found in almost any other country there are serious deficiencies which call for remedy.

Thus limitation of compulsory insurance to persons under contract of service and below a certain remuneration if engaged on non-manual work is a serious gap. Many persons working on their own account are poorer and more in need of State insurance than employees the remuneration limit for non-manual employees is arbitrary and takes no account of family responsibility. There is, again, no real difference between the income needs of persons who are sick and those who are unemployed, but they get different rates of benefit involving different contribution conditions and with | meaningless distinctions between persons of different ages. An adult insured man with a wife and two children receives 38/- per week should he become unemployed if after some weeks of unemployment he becomes sick and not available for work, his insurance income falls to 18/-. On the other hand a youth of 17 obtains 9/- when he is unemployed, but should he become sick his insurance income rises to 12/- per week. There are, to take another example, three different means tests for non-contributory pensions, for supplementary pensions and for public assistance, with a fourth test—for unemployment assistance—differing from that for supplementary pensions in some particulars.

Many other such examples could be given they are the natural result of the way in which social security has grown in Britain. It is not open to question that, by closer co-ordination, the existing social services could be made at once more beneficial and more intelligible to those whom they serve and more economical in their administration.


The Beveridge Report: Making the Welfare State

Britain&rsquos welfare state is often spoken of as a triumph of peacetime, however, Beveridge's plan for it was drawn while the world was at war. Politicians were united on the need to change the system of social care but divided on how to make it work and how much of the Beveridge Report to put into practice.

In February 1943 as a result a further committee was formed to look in detail at implementing the recommendations of the report (the Sheepshanks Committee) in April.

The Conservative Party supported aspects of the report. Churchill, the leader of the Conservative Party, coined the phrase 'from the Cradle to the Grave' in a radio broadcast in March 1943 to describe the need for some form of social insurance to give security to every class of citizen in the state. However, Churchill was against too much state intervention and supported &lsquofreedom of choice&rsquo in healthcare.

The Liberal Party supported the Beveridge Report, including the inclusion of voluntary groups and charities in providing social security.

The Labour Party agreed with the main recommendations of the Beveridge Report but thought the State should provide full benefits and free healthcare for all and exclude voluntary societies.

The 1945 General Election

After World War Two, a general election was immediately called as the wartime coalition government of the major parties (Labour, Conservative and National Government) split apart. The General Election took place on 5 July 1945. The results were not all counted until 26 July due to the need to collect votes from the enormous number of men and women in the armed services, which were stationed across the world.

At the centre of the Labour Party Manifesto for the 1945 election is the implementation of the report&rsquos recommendations around national insurance and health. Key Labour politicians had also run some of the most relevant domestic departments during the war, such as Ernest Bevin Minister of Labour and National Service.

Labour Victory

The 1945 election led to a Labour Party victory and they had over 100 MPs more than any other party. The new Labour government introduced the steps for the National Health Service (NHS) and the implementation of other areas identified within the Beveridge Report, such as national insurance.

The inclusion or use of voluntary and &lsquofriendly societies&rsquo was not included in practical enactment of report by the Labour Government. All functions were controlled by the State.

The three decades following 1945 are known as a time of post-War consensus: an agreement by the main political parties that the Beveridge welfare state and a mixed economy would best keep inequality in check and stop poverty.

The National Health Service

Even before the election, parts of the Beveridge Report were being put into place by the coalition wartime government. The Labour Government introduced the laws and infrastructure needed for social security and the National Health Service (NHS):

  • 1944 Education Act (wartime coalition)
  • 1945 Family Allowances Act
  • 1946 National Insurance Act and National Health Services Act
  • 1946 USA 50 year loan to UK of $3.75 Billion
  • 5 July 1948 National Health Service established

Glosario

National Insurance - a universal (i.e. everyone pays the same amount of their salary) system of social insurance paid by the state with contributions made by employers and employees from their pay.

Welfare State - describes a system of state support funded by contributions from people and businesses. This system is sometimes called social security.


Beveridge and After: the Implementation of the Report’s Proposals

15The wholehearted endorsement of the Beveridge Report by the Labour Party – and the initial reluctance of Winston Churchill to commit the government to what appeared a very costly programme in the middle of a very expensive war – helped to secure an overwhelming Labour victory in the election of�. Following this triumph, legislation to implement Beveridge Report was put in place. Two of the three ‘assumptions’ had already been addressed: legislation to introduce tax-funded family allowances had been passed before the election and an official White Paper on Full Employment had been published shortly before Beveridge’s book on the subject. The Labour government took immediate steps to establish a National Health Service and new legislation to introduce the Beveridge’s social insurance scheme was passed in�, supplemented in� by the introduction of National Assistance – a measure that effectively centralised future means-tested social assistance, previously administered at local level. Contemporaries (not least Beveridge himself) understood the need for means-tests to be transitory these were destined, like the Marxist state, to wither away. However, central consolidation of means-tested assistance was to prove prescient for the future development of British social security.

16From the outset, the report’s recommendations encountered practical difficulties. Universal subsistence-level benefits proved particularly problematic for two main reasons: their overall expense and the difficulty in establishing a level of subsistence in a country where the cost of living (notably housing costs) varied considerably. From the start, the Beveridge Plan was viewed as potentially expensive in terms of its impact on industrial costs and thus on post-war exports and economic recovery. Its author was forced into early detailed recalculations to demonstrate how future financial burdens might be kept within limits. Three main problem areas had been identified in the report itself. First, rents varied considerably by family size, social class and by geographic location, [26] thereby challenging the principle of a flat rate subsistence-level benefit for all claimants. Second, the introduction of the first state pension at subsistence level and conditional on retirement [27] posed a particularly heavy burden that threatened the balances of the new insurance fund. Numbers of elderly were rising and, with old age poverty already a pressing concern, [28] the wartime government had already come under pressure to raise pensions. Finally, while the non-contributing housewife added to the scheme’s overall expense, the plight of deserted or divorced wives required attention. The report offered its own solutions: housewives should be admitted to all benefits bar unemployment benefit by virtue of their husbands’ contributions – including the divorced and deserted. The problem of variable rent could not be allowed to upset the principle of a flat-rate benefit for all, but those living with high accommodation costs might be permitted to appeal for supplementation. Finally the pensions issue (the most sensitive and difficult) might be tackled by phasing in the subsistence level pension over a㺔-year period, to allow insurance contributions to accumulate and post-war economic growth to lessen the burden. In the interim, lower pensions would encourage older workers to postpone retirement and/or encourage personal savings. Beveridge argued with some cogency that, whereas sickness or unemployment might strike without warning, old age was less a risk than a stage in the lifecycle for which the working person should be expected to plan.

17The author’s analysis cut little ice with the official committee set up to inspect the Beveridge Report on behalf of the wartime Cabinet (Phillips Committee). This committee, in view of the substantial extension in state-run insurance envisaged by Beveridge, criticised his report on a number of moral and economic grounds. It would pamper the feckless because it abandoned the principle of deterrence on which social relief in Britain had long been based. Phillips also attacked the principle of subsistence as unaffordable and impractical in light of the variation in the cost of living around the country. [29] Such criticisms were later embellished by the Treasury, which argued that most of the proposed changes were unnecessary, threatened the future balance of payments (as insurance contributions would create higher prices for exported goods), undermined work incentives and penalised entrepreneurship by perpetuating high taxation. [30] Moreover, contributions were unlikely to sustain benefit expenditure over the long run. Benefits for divorced wives in particular were interpreted as "subsidising sin." [31] As the National Council for Women was demanding a regular allowance for all housewives (a proposal the report rejected), Beveridge found himself isolated between organisations demanding more benefits for women and the Treasury demanding fewer. In consequence, the bulk of proposals to help women were eradicated. [32] Treasury objections underpinned the cuts in level and duration of benefit that appeared in subsequent white papers on social security that laid down the wartime government’s proposals for reform. [33] While the idea of unifying and rationalising social security administration was accepted, Whitehall officials and the Conservative Party looked askance at the implications of the Beveridge Report for future tax burdens and the damage inflicted on work incentives.

18Thus considerable inroads had been made by into Beveridge’s proposals well before the general election of�. However, the results of that election – which gave Labour its first ever absolute majority in the House of Commons – reflected the evident popularity of the Beveridge Report and the new government set about its implementation without delay. However, there were real problems. First, it proved impossible to balance the books: subsistence level benefits could not be funded by flat-rate contributions at a level that low-paid workers could sustain. The alternative, to raise the industrial contribution, threatened the post-war export drive. Second, the variation in the cost of living (largely due to rents) made a uniform subsistence level benefit incapable of a clear definition. Third, the cost of living index on which official calculations were based failed to account for either wartime or post-war inflation with any accuracy. Finally, although Beveridge had recommended that subsistence-level pensions should be phased in over a twenty-year period, the new Labour government found it quite impossible to leave established provision for pensioners untouched. Bowing to popular demand, the government decided to introduce the new pensions immediately (in�), while encouraging pensioners to stay in work by not offsetting additional earnings (post-war labour shortages were chronic). [34] However, although old age pensions were introduced at more generous rates than family allowances (arguably on the grounds that old people voted but children did not, as los Veces remarked), the elderly proved particularly vulnerable to inflation. Social insurance benefit rates remained unindexed and were only reviewed every five years price rises in the later�s corroded state pension values. This meant that one of Beveridge’s most popular promises – the abolition of means testing – was never realised as many poorer pensioners were forced to claim social assistance.

19The National Assistance Board (NAB), created in� to replace pre-war local authority means-tested assistance, was originally intended by Beveridge to cater only for a tiny remnant of cases. Although levels of poverty fell in the aftermath of the war, the work of the NAB remained substantial. By�, 500.000 pensioners were still applying for means-tested help and by the early�s, this figure topped one million. In the early�s, investigations by the London School of Economics revealed the high levels of poverty that persisted among the elderly, many too proud to apply to the NAB and to submit to the indignity of the means test. [35] In the absence of index-linked insurance benefits and with an ageing population, this figure continued to grow: today, state social security in Britain is overwhelmingly reliant on means tests. Viewed in the long run, we are forced to conclude that the nineteenth century poor law has made a deeper impact on British social policy than the Beveridge Report ever did.

20In the more immediate term, however, the popularity of Labour’s welfare measures guaranteed their survival. During and after the� elections, the reformist wing of the incoming Conservative government overcame earlier resistance to allow the NHS and the principle of universal benefits to survive intact. However, by the later�s, arguments against universality were being revived. The objections heard in wartime Whitehall, detailed above, concerning the damage universal benefits imposed by undermining work incentives, sustaining ‘unrealistic’ wages and raising industrial costs – all began to command a wider audience. Burdening the public sector by paying benefits to those who did not strictly need state support was a waste of resources. Hence the situation began to change: memories of the�s had faded, full employment and the spread of private welfare systems (notably for pensions) guaranteed that the level of state benefits was becoming irrelevant to anyone but the very poor. Slowly, traditional assumptions about the role of the state in supporting the indigent re-emerged, thus setting the stage for their full-bodied resuscitation with the election of Mrs Thatcher in�. The traditional tenets of British political economy about the minimal role of the state in supporting the indigent had, in spite of Beveridge’s best efforts, never really gone away.


The battle for Beveridge’s welfare state

Enthusiastic crowds queued to buy Beveridge's plan for a welfare state. How would a modern-day Beveridge restore the standing of his creaking creation?

William Beveridge discusses his report at the Ministry of Information. Photo: AP/Rex/Shutterstocks

On 30th November, 75 years ago, in the middle of the Second World War, an anticipatory queue formed on London’s Kingsway, the then headquarters of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.

Barely a fortnight earlier, Winston Churchill had ordered that the church bells be rung in recognition of Montgomery’s victory at El Alamein. It was the first domestic cause for rejoicing after three years of a war where there had been nothing to celebrate aside from the retreat from Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, and stoic defiance of the Blitz. It was El Alamein—the first victory—that brought forth Churchill’s famous declaration that “Now is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is perhaps the end of the beginning.”

The lengthening queue on Kingsway, however, was not focused on the end of anything they were after a new beginning. They were there for the somewhat unlikely purpose of buying an often-immensely technical 300-page government-commissioned report, written by a retired civil servant, with the uninspiring title “Social Insurance and Allied Services.”

Much of the report was as hard going as the title suggests. But its 20-page introduction and 20-page summary, which were sold as a cheaper cut-down version, punchily dug the foundations on which the post-war welfare state would rest. These parts of the report were stuffed with inspirational rhetoric—“five giants on the road to reconstruction,” “a revolutionary moment in the world’s history is a time for revolutions, not for patching”: language that no government report, on any subject, has rivalled since.

In the context of the welfare state today, after seven years of austerity and with more to come, it is pretty hard to imagine news about anything other than cuts. The NHS is in the midst of the biggest squeeze in its history. Social care is in crisis. Spending per pupil is due to stop rising, and to fall in real terms. And entitlements to working age benefits—having been cut—are due to be cut again. Even back in the New Labour years, when the government was mobilising serious resources to make work pay and avoid the poorest families falling behind, there was almost an element of embarrassment about the endeavour. Certainly, nobody queued down Kingsway, Whitehall or anywhere else to hear about Gordon Brown’s tax credits, which were expressly designed to disguise a poverty-reduction programme as tax cuts, the calculation being that the war on want would be unpopular and so must be waged with stealth. Compared to 1942, it is another world.

Source: Institute for Fiscal Studies

The author of the report that caused such a stir 75 years ago was William Beveridge, an egotistical 63-year-old who already had more careers behind him than most ever enjoy—not just in Whitehall, but also as a journalist, broadcaster, permanent secretary, and head of both the LSE and University College, Oxford. He seemed to switch opinions almost as often as he did jobs. At times he held distinctly free-market views, but advocated for dirigiste planning during both world wars. He sometimes spoke in generous terms about social welfare, but at others of the economic necessity of “the whip of starvation.” Just four years before his report, Beatrice Webb, the great Fabian reformer, recorded his view in her diary after a walk across the Hampshire downs, that “the only remedy for unemployment is lower wages… he admitted, almost defiantly, that he was not personally concerned with the condition of the common people.” And he had something of the crank about him. The young Harold Wilson, for a time Beveridge’s researcher, recalled having in the 1930s to talk him out of a theory that it was the “sunspot” cycle—solar eruptions which supposedly bore on crop yields—that chiefly explained unemployment.

When he was appointed, it must thus have been tough to know how his report would turn out. In 1942, however, he was to prove admirably clear about what he wanted to do. His report did indeed offer—as was trumpeted on publication day by newspapers as diverse as the Telegrafo diario y el Espejo diario—“cradle to grave” social security. It really did promise a clean break with the hardships not just of the war, but with the pre-war past. And the British welfare state that it set out in blueprint is, for all the challenges that it faces, still with us today.

Beveridge’s core aim was to tackle the poverty that had so scarred the 1930s, though he dubbed poverty “Want.” The 1930s were the days of mass unemployment, the Jarrow march, and the deeply loathed household means test that could see a family lose benefit if a child got a paper round. He proposed to solve that by building a new system of social insurance that would support a vastly improved benefit system.

But “Want,” he declared—and he was fond of both lists and giant capital letters—was but one of the “five giant evils on the road to reconstruction.” The others being “Disease, which often causes that Want… upon Ignorance which no democracy can afford among its citizens, upon Squalor… and upon Idleness which destroys wealth and corrupts men.”

And to make his new system of social security work, he wrote in “three assumptions”—things that had to happen, outside of his report, to allow it to happen. Specifically, there would be a national health service, available to all and without a charge of any kind. That there would be children’s allowances, which we would now recognise roughly as child benefit. These were to be funded from general taxation, not the national insurance contributions that underpinned the rest of his system. And there would be “full use of the powers of the state to maintain employment and reduce unemployment.”

So there it was. A comprehensively new social security system, involving everything from maternity to funeral grants. A free-at -the-point-of-use NHS. An attack upon Ignorance—better education. An assault upon Squalor—replacing slum housing. And a policy of full employment. A pretty much all-encompassing vision, which pretty well came to pass.

Outside the Treasury, where the chancellor Kingsley Wood did his damndest to kill it off, the reception was rapturous. Even Churchill in some moods favoured the vision, though at other times he fretted over the costs. As a result, some planning was done, but none of it was actually to happen—other than Butler’s great 1944 Education Act—until after the war was won. But the political power of the Beveridge promise was nonetheless extraordinary. In HMSO folklore, nothing outsold Beveridge’s 600,000 copies until the Denning report, on the more obviously sexy subject of the Profumo scandal 20 years later. The BBC broadcast details of “The Beveridge Plan” round the clock in 22 languages, and summaries were dropped into Nazi-occupied Europe. A commentary found in Hitler’s bunker after the war declared it to be “no botch-up… and superior to the current German social insurance in almost all points.”

In the words of José Harris, Beveridge’s brilliant biographer, the report’s spectacular impact was “a matter of both luck and calculation.” The luck included the fact that it landed just after El Alamein. The calculation was the way Beveridge and his allies had trailed it, long before the days of spin doctors, and, of course the Bunyan-esque prose with which he painted his vision—Beveridge was, after all, originally a journalist.

For all the daring, there was continuity as well as change in the report. The Beveridge system can be traced to the first Edwardian moves towards social insurance—in which Beveridge had had a hand—and to assorted municipal experiments, from the communal healthcare in Aneurin Bevan’s Wales to the bold council housing schemes of Herbert Morrison’s London County Council. But while all these models and many other ideas had been swirling around well before the war, it was Beveridge’s report, in the wonderful phrase of Paul Addison, that provided “the prince’s kiss.” The one that gave them life. He distilled the spirit of the lot.

Here is not the place to tell the tale of how Beveridge’s vision of a modern welfare state was constructed nor the struggles that have followed over the succeeding 75 years, in which it steadily expanded to take up a much larger slice of a far bigger economy (see chart opposite). All of that is covered in my newly-updated book, The Five Giants. What I want to do here instead is to ask what on earth the Beveridge of 1942 would have made of the welfare state as it stands, 75 years on.

It is not an easy question to answer with any precision, as so much has changed that he simply could not have foreseen. When he reported, the worry was not about an ageing population, but a declining one, and in his view it fell to “housewives as mothers” to put this right through their “vital work… in ensuring the adequate continuance of the British race.” Women may have been pouring into factories and flying unarmed Spitfires in the emergency of war, but expectations were still shaped by the pre-war world, where only one married woman in eight had worked. Thus, for married women, “provision should be made… with reference to the seven [the seven who did not work] rather than the one.” So married women gained less benefit in their own right than men.

Gender is only the start. In 1942 the school leaving age was 14, and a vanishingly small proportion, just 3 per cent, of 18 year olds went on to university. Income tax rates were high. But only the decidedly better off paid any income tax at all. Britain still had a global Empire, but it had neither a remotely global economy nor any significant Commonwealth immigration. The closest thing Britain had to a computer was being operated in secret by Alan Turing, the BBC’s fledgling television service had been suspended for the war, and relatively few homes had a telephone. We were much younger: with fewer than 200,000 people aged over 85, against 1.5m today. And we were much poorer, with average inflation-adjusted income per head around a quarter of today’s figure. And so on and so on.

But with all that said, Beveridge would recognise and be proud of the National Health Service, which, a few charges in England aside, fits his ideal, although he would be amazed at its size. He believed that the costs would fall once a mighty backlog of treatment had been dealt with. Instead, as in every other developed country, expenditure on endlessly-evolving modern medicine has risen faster than the economy. But healthcare, the overwhelming bulk of it still coming through the NHS, now consumes around one pound in 10 of our much enlarged national income. He would be much less happy about the condition of its Cinderella sister, social care. The 1945 Labour government claimed to have “abolished the Poor Law.” But its shadow lives on in the way social care remains first “needs tested”—a certain level of disability is needed to qualify—and then means-tested. If Beveridge was around today, cracking that and integrating this neglected service with health would be a target.

He would recognise and broadly approve of the basic state pension, although he would have been decidedly cross at the way its value was allowed to sink for 30 years after Thatcher broke the earnings link in 1980. He would, however, endorse the cross-party way in which over the last decade—via the Turner Commission, Labour legislation, coalition implementation, and, so far, Conservative preservation—it has been rebuilt as what he originally intended: a near-universal minimum platform on which private saving can be constructed. Auto-enrolment into pensions wasn’t even an idea back in 1942. But this form of personal provision on top of that from the state would decidedly appeal to this liberal statesman.

Beveridge would approve, at least in principle, of welfare-to-work programmes. His report recommended that men and women “unemployed for a certain period”—six months in periods of average unemployment, longer when it was higher—“should be required as a condition of continued benefit to attend a work or training centre… to prevent habituation to idleness and as a means of improving capacity for earning.” Those recommendations were not implemented in the days of full employment after the war. They seemed unnecessary. It was to take until the later 1990s, and in a much changed labour market, for welfare-to-work properly to take off.

He would, however, be mortified that, 75 years on, we still haven’t solved what he dubbed “the problem of rent.” He devoted nine pages to it while acknowledging that the solution he proposed was inadequate. He would be appalled at the way rising private sector rents have turned what is now housing benefit into the equivalent of running up a down escalator—the bill rises remorselessly even as the quality of accommodation covered descends—in a housing market that the Conservative communities secretary Sajid Javid has candidly described as “broken.” And he would, of course, have been horrified that seven years of austerity have seen the return of food banks, the modernised equivalent of the old soup kitchens—75 years after his plan to abolish Want.

Unemployed men queuing at a labour exchange, October 1931. Photo: Daily Herald Archive/SSPL/Getty Images

But when it comes to the way Want is remedied today, Beveridge would be bemused at how far means-testing—through tax credits, housing benefit, and now universal credit—now extend up the income scale. This has been one of the most enormous changes since his time, occurring over the 1990s and 2000s as the emphasis on the benefits system shifted from supporting people on condition they did not work, to supporting them to be in work, a response to the way globalisation was driving down wages at the lower end. With his knowledge of the 1930s, he hated means tests on similar grounds to Frank Field who has repeatedly argued that they “promote idleness, encourage dishonesty and penalise savings.”

But it is the flipside of all the means-testing that would have alarmed him the most—a spectacular erosion of the contributory principle, which had been the rock on which Beveridge built his plan. “Benefit in return for contributions, rather than free allowances from the State, is what the people of Britain desire,” Beveridge declared. Today, National Insurance is still collected on a vast scale—it is the government’s second largest source of revenue after income tax. But the basic state pension aside—and even there the link is diluted—the connection between contributions paid and benefits received has come close to disappearing. Since the 1990s, insurance-based unemployment benefits have only been paid for six months, after which the means-test bites more recently, other insurance-based benefits have been similarly curtailed. All of that would have met with Beveridge’s stern disapproval.

So there are as many negatives as positives on our brief and selective score card that we have presumptuously filled out on behalf of the Beveridge of 1942. But then the welfare state never was—or never should have been—something handed down on tablets of 1940s stone, never to be tampered with. It has, inevitably, had to adapt to the changing world. And there have been big advances as well as setbacks down the years.

There is, for example, now a huge range of benefits for disabled people never envisaged in the 1940s. There has been the massive expansion in schooling and—notwithstanding the tuition fees row—a mighty explosion in higher education. Having spent next to nothing on early years and childcare 20 years ago, the UK has today one of the highest levels of spend in Europe. In the 1940s, and for decades afterwards, the great worry was the elderly poor today, while there are still some poor pensioners, the elderly are the social group least likely to be at the bottom of the income distribution, a remarkable story of progress.

While the welfare state is under all sorts of financial stresses and strains, even after austerity it takes roughly two-thirds of government expenditure, and around a quarter of national income, just as it has since the 1980s. The composition of that spending has changed—parts have shrunk (free teeth and specs, for example) or even vanished. But new limbs have been added, and the beast is still alive. The prognosis for it in the coming 75 years, however, will depend on the argument for it continuing to adapt in changing times. The most pressing question for its survival is not what the 1942 Beveridge would think about this or that aspect of today’s welfare state, but how a modern-day Beveridge might set about restoring the system’s popular appeal.

In the era of ration-books and emergency wartime taxes, Britain became more equal, which made the “all in it together” spirit required to build the welfare state that bit easier to achieve. But over more recent decades inequality has widened hugely again. Inheritance has begun to bear more heavily upon an individual’s life chances, in ways that would have stunned and troubled Beveridge—he would, reasonably, have assumed it would continue to become less important, as it had already been doing for decades by 1942. Even in the egalitarian 1950s, the truly comprehensive social insurance system Beveridge desired was never quite achieved. It would be a much more difficult sell in a world where the poor struggle to pay the premiums, and the rich feel they don’t need the cover.

Would he even try? The one area in which he might is social care, where patchy and inadequate provision is fuelling the fear of financial ruin. Here a cry for the pooling of risk across society might, if put with flair, still be popular.

A modern-day Beveridge would be intrigued by the argument that because automation will soon destroy jobs on such a scale, it is time to set the welfare state on entirely new principles, by offering everyone a so-called universal “citizen’s “ or “basic” income. But with his “something-for-something” understanding of popular morality, he’d be unlikely to regard a free-for-all stipend as a way to entrench legitimacy. And he would be quick to spot that such a policy would be a decidedly costly stretch, requiring stiff levels of taxation—for which there is absolutely no evidence that the British electorate would vote.

As a wordsmith, Beveridge would be acutely sensitive to the role of language in charting a course through all the modern-day challenges. Although widely seen as the founder of the modern “welfare state,” he in fact refused to use the term, disliking its “Santa Claus” connotations. He would today be even more dismayed by some of the language around it, and the effect on policy. “Social security”—Beveridge’s great goal—has fallen out of the lexicon. Politicians of all parties now talk about “welfare,” and quite often deliberately conflate everything from the contribution-based pension (by far the largest single element of the £212bn bill), to child benefit, in-work benefits, and means-tested help for the workless, with the latter, at most, accounting a sixth of the bill. The meaning of the word “welfare” has been turned on its head. It has little to do with faring well. Rather, it has become a term of abuse. To be “on welfare” is to be on the wrong side of the tracks or on “benefit street.” One thing those politicians who truly believe that “we are all in this together” could do is reclaim the language of “social security” and the sense of collectiveness that goes with it.

One of the many modern problems which was not a challenge in the 1940s is inter-generational inequality. Even to the extent that it was, it was the old and not the young that were the worry. But in the gap that today yawns between the generations in the opposite direction, a modern-day Beveridge might spot an opportunity—to re-emphasise something the welfare state has always done, which is redistribute not just from rich to poor but across the individual, and family, lifecycle.

The welfare state continues to educate and support its children, as it always has. Having seen them through birth and the early health interventions that are crucial for their future, it seeks to pick up the minority in their middle years for whom life goes wrong in myriad ways. And when these people—and their more-fortunate peers—are older, it tries to ensure they have a basic state pension: having provided, on the way, incentives and assistance to help those who can build something better than that. And it assumes that those older people, and their children, and their grandchildren, will repeat the enterprise—because the older generations fret as much about the younger generations, as the younger generations do about their parents and grandparents. Whether the question is health or housing, education, employment or poverty relief, the welfare state does all this far from perfectly, and occasionally very badly. But most individuals and families would, surely, still prefer for their own lives to unfold in a world where the welfare state was there at moments of vulnerability, rather than live in the alternative—a world where everyone is for themselves, for good, or ill, or very ill.

A modern-day Beveridge would thus likely aim to foster understanding of the welfare state’s continuing role as an unwritten inter-generational contract. By doing that, he just might be able to encourage taxpayers’ willingness to stump up the funds that the system continues to need.

For the single thing that Beveridge would be crystal clear about is that if the British people, to use his repeated phrase, still want in very changed circumstances a decent system of social security and a wider set of “allied services”—the NHS, education, decent housing for all—then they have to be prepared to advocate, fight, vote and pay for it. My favourite single quote from Beveridge is this. “Freedom from Want cannot be forced on a democracy or given to a democracy. It must be won by them.” As true now as it was then—when people were queuing up for it.

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Nicholas Timmins is a senior fellow at the Institute for Government and the King’s Fund. “The Five Giants: A Biography of the Welfare State,” his final, fully-updated, and award-winning edition of the welfare state’s history, from Beveridge to the modern day, is published by William Collins


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