The weekend debate: Was William Beveridge right to oppose the creation of a welfare state?

Though he is often thought of as the father of the modern welfare state in this country, William Beveridge in fact had other views on the matter. As he said of the Beveridge report, the aim, “was not security through a welfare state but security by cooperation between the state and the individual”. In other words, the state should assist people in achieving self-reliance (and so the contributory principle in the report) rather than being simply a benevolent charity writ large (and so his support for conditions on benefits such as mandatory attendance at work or training centres and his desire to see friendly societies provide social insurance schemes rather than having the state be the sole provider).

Was Beveridge right then? And is he right now?

Hat-tip for Beveridge quote: Duncan Brack’s chapter in The political thought of the Liberal and Liberal Democrats since 1945.

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