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The Beveridge report: Political and intellectual origins

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  1. Introduction
  2. A survey of existing social insurance and assistance schemes
    1. The Victorian period
    2. Liberal social welfare reforms
    3. World War I and the inter-war years
  3. Recommendations for social welfare
    1. Reformist groups of thinkers
    2. World War II and the anticipation of the post war era
  4. Report on Social Insurance and Allied Services: the Beveridge Plan
    1. Comprehensiveness
    2. The plan
  5. Conclusion
    1. British Social policy
    2. The crises of the first half of the 20th century
    3. Social reforms
  6. Bibliography

The historiography of the political and intellectual origins of the Report on Social Insurance and Allied Services ? or Beveridge Report, named after William Beveridge, the Chairman of the Commission- was chiefly displayed in the document itself. Published in 1942 and highly edited, the white paper inherently exposed a political and intellectual review of British social security.

The political evolution of the schemes of social insurance and assistance ?including the Beveridge Report- was mainly presented as a response to practical political and community problems which synthesis was the Welfare State originated in the Beveridge Report: a universal and comprehensive State insurance of social assistance. However, the intentions behind social legislations were discussed; historians such as Bruce Maurice (1968) and Derek Fraser (2003) disagreed on the causes of evolution. Maurice pointed that the Welfare State had grown out of the needs of the English people and out of the struggle for social justice whereas Fraser advanced an erratic and pragmatic response to practical individual and community problems of an industrial society.

Regarding the intellectual evolution of the social policy, it appeared that political and economical problems catalyzed social changes firstly originated by intellectuals and next supported by politicians and the community influenced by intellectuals' publications. Jose Harris (May, 1992) and John Offer (2006) presented the intellectual framework of social policy as previous to political and popular frameworks. Social-reform literature of the 18th century was moralist and utilitarianist (Smith, 1759; Bentham, 1789), and the New Poor Law set up in 1834 resulted from and in the intellectual trends.

[...] From 1945, measures recommended in the Report were implemented in the Welfare State; yet what were the political and intellectual issues of the Beveridge Report regarding the evolution of social policy? Bibliography Primary sources General Abrams, Mark. The Condition of the British People 1911-1945 : A Study Prepared for the Fabian Society. London: Victor Gollancz Bosanquet, Helen. Poor Law Report of 1909 : Summary Expl. Defects of Present System and Recommendations of the Comm. Macmillan Cole, G.D.H. Great Britain in the Post-War World. [...]


[...] London : HarperCollins Beveridge and the Beveridge Report Beveridge, (Lady) Janet. Beveridge and his Plan. London: Hodder & Stoughton Capet, Antoine. «Plan Beveridge ou plan Churchill ? Consensus et dissensus sur la Reconstruction.» Revue française de civilisation britannique, Vol.9, No.1, October 1996: 107-126. Clarke, Joan S. (Ed.). Beveridge on Beveridge: Recent speeches of Sir William Beveridge. London: Social Security League Cole, G.D.H. Beveridge Explained. What the Beveridge Report on Social Security means. London: New Statesman & Nation Harris, Jose. William Beveridge: A Biography. [...]


[...] The Beveridge Report presented a combination of past political philosophies as the proposals were mainly extensions of previous measures- in order to revolutionize social assurance and assistance schemes. The Report clearly acknowledged its comprehensive intentions through ?three guiding principles of recommendation? which combination resulted in the abolition of Want and also a revolutionary ideological argument: social welfare happened to be apolitical or supra-political. The presentation firstly included the principle of necessary break with the past, a ?revolution?; then it advocated that social insurance provide income security? and policies of social security "must be achieved by co-operation between the State and the individual", with the State securing the service and contributions. [...]

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