Beveridge Report 1942 Summary

Summary of Beveridge report, briefly touching on successes/failures of each giant

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  • Set up by Sir William Beveridge, a Liberl Economist.
  • 1942
  • Wanted to tackle the 5 Evils (sometimes known as giants) which were preventing Britain from becoming a modern society
  • Clement Atlee (Labour) became Prime Minister in 1945, he was well respect and mild mannered, very much the opposite of the dynamic war time leader Churchill.
  • Labour had promised in their election campain to tackle these 5 evils pointed out in the Beveridge Report; they wanted to help build 'a better Britiain'
  • Conservatives mainly rejected it.

The Five Evils= Want, Ignorance, Disease, Squalor & Idleness

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Break Down of Each Evil.

1) WANT- means poverty or need. Many people in Britian were in need of basic financial support. Could be tackled by state insurance against sickness, unemployment and old age.

2) IGNORANCE - due to poor education. Could be tackled by universale secondary education.

3) DISEASE - lack of national health care, thus providing a system of national health are for all seemed necessary.

4) SQUALOR -  due to poor housing or slum living. Could be tackled by Local authourity housing supported by Governmeent

5) IDLENESS - a hangover from the time of depression with high unemployment. To tackle this they would need full employment.

(NOTE: Beveridge believed in tackling these 5 issues it would take Britain forward)

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WANT policy number 1.


  • universal act (applied national insurance to all employees)
  • 'from cradle to the grave'

It provided

  • benefits for unemployed and pregnant women (maternity grants)
  • pensions for the retired
  • allowances for the sick, widows and their children, orphans

Extra Quote: James Griffiths (Minister of National Insurance) claimed it was the "best and cheapest insurance policy offered to thee British people, or people of anywhere""

LIMITS OF THE POLICY- Large numbersof officails needed to operate it
      - Did not go far enough, restricted to the citizens who had made contributions (women and self-employed workers not included)

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WANT policy number 2


  • was universal in that is covered the whole workforce
  • made generous compensation for injuries and illness caused by work

It provided:

  • injury benefit for six months
  • disability benefit for those permanently injured
  • death beneft for dependents
  • accidents were no longer a private matter
  • Tribunals were set up so that workers could get a fair hearing

LIMITS: - it was difficult to prove injuries 

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WANT policy number 3


  • Pressed on the government by Bevan
  • designed to provide basic financial help for anyone who fell through th net of other benefits

It provided:

  • The abolition of Poor Law by transferring financial responsibility for the destitute from local to central governement
  • work houses scrapped andgot rid of the UAB (unemployment assistance board, an awful thing established in the 1930s that did the means test.. hugely unpopular)
  • all above were hangovers from the victorian period
  • provided benefit for people who could not fend for themselves (assisted poorest in society)
  • provided accomodation for the homeless

LIMITS: - many more people than anticipated (66% by 1950) and many still reluctant to apply because they were wary of the new means test.

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IGNORANCE policy number 1

EDUCATION ACT (or Butler Act) 1944

  • was actually a conservative idea and dreamt up by a guy called Butler
  • 1947 Labour passed it into an actual law

It provided:

  • Free primary and secondary education for all
  • School leaving age raised to 15 and then later 16

Labour councils also adopted the 'triparite' model for secondary education which meant different types of shcools for different types of chidren who were selected at age 11. 
Grammar schools for the academically able, technical schools for vocational eduaction and secondary modern for the rest.  

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Success/Failures of Education Act


  • Allowed thousands of bright working class childen to go to grammar shools and therefore get out of the poor education, poor job, poor lifestyle cycle


  • left many children with a sense of failure at aged 11
  • Technical schools were neglected in many areas
  • modern seondary schools never gained the same prestige or resources as grammar schools
  • Many labour left-wingers were disappointed that there was no move to abolish private, fee paying schools
  • They felt class background continued to have too much influence on the education and career prospets of children
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DISEASE policy number 1


  • A freely accessible health care system for all- beginning of true welfare state
  • Aneurin Bevan Minister for Health and Housing
  • Began July 1948

It Provided:

  • By 1949, 8 million people recieved dental care
  • 5.75 million glasses had been issued
  • 187 million perscriptions dispenced


  • Was far more expensive than they predicted, initial budget 187million, actual cost 355 million
  • some charges brought about in 1951, Bevan resigned in protest 
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SQUALOR policy number 1


  • Gave financial help to Local Authorities to help rebuild areas of cities damaged by the war
  • Between 1945-51 1,25 Million permanent houses were built
  • quarter of a million 'prefabs' temporary dwellings.

New Towns Act began the buildingof major new towns and around London o house those bombed out or in slum accomodation

The Town and Countryside Act required local authorities to plan future development andalso establised the 'green belt' as a way of limiting urban sprawl and marking the beginning of environmental planning

It was created to provide immediate support for homeless.
However, Labour was not able to build enough due the debt and economy. Homeless went to hostel which lost more money. Only 200,000 houses a year, very short of the promise. 
Rent controls also put forward to landlords could no longer just change rents 

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  • From 1946, every adult in Britain who was unemployed was given money by the governement so they could afford to live
  • This was called unempolyment benefit.
  • Full employment was maintained throughout 1945-51 whih was welcomed in the old depressed reigons
  • Beveridge had argued that a high level of employment was esential for a successful welfare stae and the 1944 White paper on employment had committed governements to maintaining such a level
  • Despite fears that unemployment would be as it had been after WW1, Labour maintained virtually full employment
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Rowntree's Third Suvery

  • Less than 2% living in primary poverty in 1950 compared to 10% in 1899
  • old age was biggest cause of poverty in 1950 as against low wages in 1899 and unemployment in 1936
  • full employment was key in this fall
  • estimated that primary poverty would have been up to eight times as great without the post-war welfare reforms
  • clearly significant improvement.

Compared to the patchy provision that existed pre WW2, Labour's welfare and social reforms were a great step forward. Their full benefit however was not evident until they were out of governement in the 1950s. They are still the baisis of the welfare system today. 

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