The Effects of the Social Reforms of the Labour Government of 1945-1951

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The Effects of the Social Reforms of the Labour Government of 1945-1951 The Beveridge Report was published in 1942. Written by the Liberal Sir William Beveridge, it had identified what he called the “five giants” – the five gravest problems of British society. They were idleness (unemployment), want (poverty), disease, squalor and ignorance. Beveridge argued for a comprehensive social insurance scheme, universal access to healthcare and new attempts to avoid the mass unemployment of the 30’s. The report was wildly popular amongst the public, who bought 625,000 copies of this rather dry, academic policy document. It seemed that during the worst, least hopeful times of the war, the British public…show more content…
The cost of a large army, navy and bases across the world; the cost of acquiring nuclear weapons and wartime debts bore down on the country’s finances. Still, the Labour Party went forward, armed with generous loans and debt relief from North America, and introduced a series of social reforms designed to address the major ailments of Britain – how successful were they in this undertaking? One of Labour’s key promises was to tackle the issue of social insurance provision in Britain. The Liberals’ inadequate National Insurance system from 1911 was still in place at the time. Beveridge recommended its replacement with a system that would cover everybody in Britain ‘from the cradle to the grave’, although he thought the amounts shouldn’t be too generous. The National Insurance Act of 1946 went a long way to implementing Beveridge’s proposals. It covered everyone over school leaving age except married women who were not working and some sections of the self/non employed. It was based on contributions from the state, employers and employees and the system covered everything from unemployment and sickness, to pensions. The unemployment benefit was 26/- for a single adult and 42/- for a couple – modest amounts at the time. The money could only be paid for a maximum of 492 days, meaning that anyone unemployed or sick beyond that point would

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