Squalor. Ignorance. Want. Idleness. Disease. William Beveridge’s five gaint evils encapsulated the enemies the welfare state was designed to combat. They signalled the battles that needed to continue once the military action of World War II had ended. Yet 70 years on from the publication of the Beveridge report there have been a number of suggestions that we need to move on. That we need to refresh Beveridge for the twenty first century.
At the turn of the year Liam Byrne had a crack at it. He delivered the Beveridge lecture at LSE in which he offered an interpretation of Beveridge that focused on welfare responsibility, conditionality, workfare. Byrne suggested that Beveridge would be broadly behind a move towards more stringent workfare policies. This argument was subsequently strongly and publicly contested by a number of social policy scholars. If nothing else it unhelpfully decontextualizes Beveridge, who was viewing conditionality in the light of a state commitment to full employment. Continue Reading →