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
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
Social Policies
National Milk Scheme: set up in June ’40.
Granted nursing and expectant mothers halfprice 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
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:
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
Three White Papers
White papers are proposed Bills of
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
Very small amount of money even by 1940s
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
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 – 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
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
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
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.”
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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