THE WELFARE STATE

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THE WELFARE STATE

1. World War II and the Beveridge Report

The War: Evacuation

 Evacuation of cities began in Sep 1939  1.5 million children were evacuated   Children were mainly from poor inner-city areas 20% of Liverpool’s evacuated children had lice   Many children had little knowledge of sanitary habits Neville Chamberlain felt “ashamed of having been so ignorant of [his] neighbours”

The War: equality of sacrifice

 Both rich and poor suffered from bombs  61,000 civilians lost their lives to bombs  4M homes were destroyed  Rationing applied to everyone, regardless of social class  Total war mean women and men of all classes did war work - together

The War: social security

 A healthy workforce was needed to help win the war  State services became available to all members of society  Churchill’s coalition took over in May 1940 – remember Churchill was instrumental during the Liberal reforms of 1906 - 18

Churchill’s Government

 Took over during Britain’s “darkest hour”  Failure at Dunkirk affected Britain’s morale  Labour MPs played a prominent role in Churchill’s cabinet: Attlee; Bevin; Morrison; Greenwood; Dalton and Alexander

Social Policies

 National Milk Scheme : set up in June ’40. Granted nursing and expectant mothers half price milk. Eventually very poor women would be granted free milk.

 Provision of school milk & meals: school meals and milk became free for all pupils  Immunisation: From 1941 all children could be immunised free of charge – infant mortality levels were greatly affected

Social policies (continued)

  State nurseries: set up so that women could return to war work Old Age & Widows’ Pensions Act: set up in 1940 to supplement the income of 3/4M  Determination of Needs Act: set up in 1941 to provide benefit for those who were in poverty; means test no longer included the extended family

The Beveridge Report 1942

 Officially known as the

Report on Social Insurance and Allied Services

 Sold 635,000 copies  Dealt with social issues of the time and was to help reform the social security system  Aimed to put an end to the dreaded means test

Beveridge and social security

 The government should strive to help anyone in need, regardless of age, class or geography  Every adult in the country would have to pay the same proportion of insurance tax to cover the proposed benefits scheme  All insurance schemes would be combined so that there is only one monthly payment

The Five Giants

 Beveridge talked about the need to tackle the

5 giants

but his report only dealt with

want.

Other problems were:  Disease  Idleness  Ignorance  Squalor

Churchill’s response

    Churchill was pre-occupied with winning the war The impression of the time was that the govt. did not want to discuss the Report Churchill spoke on radio about a national insurance scheme that would protect people from the “cradle to the grave” but did not mention Beveridge’s recommendations The Conservatives lost a lot of support in ’43 elections

Three White Papers

   

White papers are proposed Bills of Parliament

Educational Reconstruction (July ’43) National Health Service (Feb ’44) Social Insurance (Sep ’44)  These proposals laid the principals of the Welfare State, with two becoming law before the end of WWII

Family Allowance Act (1945)

 Churchill’s “caretaker” government brought in family allowance  Was to prevent a drop in the birth rate  Provided 5s per week for each child after the first  Very small amount of money even by 1940s standards  Allowance was the legal entitlement of the wife

Quotes - Historians

 “the Luftwaffe was a powerful missionary for the welfare state” AJP Taylor  “the true freedom lay in freedom from want, from disease, from ignorance, from squalor and from idleness. Here in the totality of the vision, was the revolutionary element of the Beveridge Report” D.Fraser

Quotes – civil servants/MPs

 “A dangerous optimism is growing up about the conditions it will be possible to establish here after the war…” Churchill  “It is because we are convinced that the nation wants this plan and that the nation ought to get it, and that we can afford it, that we have put down this amendment” Griffiths (Labour)

Battle against Ignorance

     1944 war time coalition passed Education Act which Labour then introduced.

Leaving age up from 14 to 15.

All children get secondary education without paying fees.

11+ ( “Qualie” ) decided future between grammar & secondary modern. ( senior & junior secondary in Scotland ) Big criticism was that secondary moderns offered an inferior education & future opportunities.

Battle against Want

Lab. Passed 1946 National Insurance

  Benefits were set up for unemployment, sickness, maternity and widows.

Now there was a comprehensive insurance scheme for sickness & unemployment benefit, retirement & widows’ pensions and maternity grants. All adults of working age paid weekly contributions – supplemented by employers and the state.

Old age pensions although costly were also brought in for women aged 60 and men 65   The Industrial injuries Act provide payments to those temporarily hurt and long term payments for those put permanently out of a job In 1948 a National Assistance Board was set up to help those for whom insurance did not do enough eg pensioners whose pensions did not keep up with the rise in cost of living.

Battle against Squalor

    

Rehousing was a major part of post war reconstruction but economic conditions meant that it was always too slow.

Labour favoured council houses over private. However this resulted in inflation of costs and lengthy council housing waiting lists 1946 New Towns Act residents.

– set up 14 across Britain – 5 in Scotland including C’nauld & E.K. They were meant to be well planned & have sufficient jobs to attract

Between 1948 and 1951, around 200,000 houses were built every year This was not enough to satisfy the country’s needs and building supplies and skilled labour were also in short supply.

Battle against Disease

      

NHS came into being in 1948 following the NHS Act of 1946 Minister of Health Anuerin Bevan.

Free medical care including dental & optical treatment & free prescriptions.

Nat. Ins contributions were greatly supplemented by general taxation.

Hospital were nationalised but private medicine was allowed to continue as a sop to the BMA There were many problems with overcrowded,old out of date hospitals.

However the biggest problem was the cost of the system.

1950 the government was forced to introduce charges for spectacles & dental treatment and then prescription charges .

Battle against Idleness

      Beveridge had insisted that full employment (under 3%) could solve the problem of poverty

There was no return to the mass unemployment of the 1930s.

1946 Unemployment was only 2.5%.

The Govt. tried to boost exports & extended rationing to control imports.

Various industries were nationalised including coal, electricity, gas, the airways, the Bank of England , the railways and the waterways. This helped achieve full employment but some like coal mining were badly run and cost the government money 1949 the £ was devalued – making exports cheaper & imports dearer

David Dutton “the major achievement of the Labour party after 1945 was to complete and consolidate the work of the wartime coalition” Kathleen Woodroofe notes how state action created a system in which welfare support was believed to be a right, free of the shame of the poor law.

Martin Pugh in State and Society 1994 “…. If the welfare state did not abolish poverty altogether, it represented the most effective single campaign against it …Any suggestion that state welfare expenditure got out of control has no basis in fact.”

Conclusion

     The range of reforms carried through to 1950 make up a system known as “the welfare state” The Labour party built upon foundations laid by the Liberals and Conservatives The care of people in need and the improvement of people’s health , housing and education were policies that all three political parties thought necessary.

More people paid taxes, taxes were higher and controls over peoples lives were more detailed and numerous and the power of the government increased.

Everyday life for the majority of people vastly improved.

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