Why was the 1942 beveridge report important?

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Beveridge Report 1942

The 1942 report by William Beveridge on Social Insurance and Allied Services involved unlimited review of Britain’s social services.

Beveridge report chiefly proposed for a universal scheme of social insurance that covered areas like family allowances and unemployment benefits (Schweinitz 1961, p. 227). It aimed at universal security from poverty through the establishment of a financial safety web. The emphasis of the report also laid in the significance of full employment.

It was received with great enthusiasm with hundreds of thousands of copies of the report being sold. However the wartime coalition government was reluctant to implement it, instead of carrying out the full recommendations of the report. In early 1943 the House of Commons debated the report, when the Labor Party revolted against coalition unwillingness to execute it. This move was significant for the Labor Party in convincing the electorate that it would create best a just society at war end.

It also prepared the foundation for the 1945 surprise victory of Attlee against Churchill (Jacobs1993, p. 111). The recommendations of the report formed the pillar of British economic and social policy running from 1945 until the 1979 Thatcherism advent.

The 1942 Beveridge Report

Prior to assembling the report, Beveridge had been asked by the Minister of Labor to evaluate the existing systems of social security and come up with recommendations. Beveridge was commissioned by the government in 1941 to report on how Britain should be reconstructed after the Second World War.

This also came at the time of his acceptance as the Royal Statistical Society’s president (Alcock & Payne 2004, p. 156). Beveridge published the report in 1942 arguing for minimum living standards below which no individual should be permitted.

He recommended that the government ought to discover means on how to fight the five giant evils, which he identified as want, ignorance, disease, idleness and squalor. This resulted in the creation of the National Health Service and the modern welfare state.

The National Health Service was formed in 1948 and offered free medical care for all Britons. Two years earlier in 1946, the National Insurance Act had been introduced to offer state contributory pension for every citizen.

The Beveridge Report formed the basis of the introduction of the modern welfare state (Leathard 2000, p. 20) The landmark reforms proposed in the paper included the 1946 National Health Service Act that offered free universal health care.

The 1945 Family Allowances Act that secured benefits with families of more than two children. The Children Act of 1946 charged local authorities with the setting up of social work for children. And finally the 1944 Education Act offered free universal secondary education. The Beveridge proposals and the principles therein still play a vital part in shaping the social security systems of various governments (Izuhara 2003, p.37).

The work carried out by the Beveridge Committee had monumental importance in the establishment of the welfare state. There is at present renewed global interest in the merits and demerits of the policies of the welfare state. This renders the historical appraisal important to the issue, besides being fundamental in the recognition of contemporary economic and social policy.

World War II witnessed an acceleration of numerous trends evidenced in the British society and politics prior to 1939. The conflict stimulated new industries further and the old ones were revived (Anderson 1972, p. 83). This resulted in widespread recognition of social problems like unemployment and poverty.

The 1942 Beveridge Report advocated a high degree of employment and the establishment of the welfare state.  Sir William Beveridge was an academic theorist and economist who spearheaded the Beveridge Committee. The proposals of the report were examined by Sir Thomas Phillips Committee, and agreed to by Committee on Reconstruction Problems under Sir William Jowitt.


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