William Beveridge: A Biography

By Jose Harris | Go to book overview

17
AFTERMATH OF THE BEVERIDGE REPORT

I

AT the end of October 1942 Stafford Cripps informed Beatrice Webb that the Beveridge Report was now complete, but that publication was being postponed, 'as some of the Cabinet object to it as too revolutionary'.1 Anxious questions were asked in Parliament, and rumours of the report's suppression began to circulate in the press. For several days, recorded one of Beveridge's assistants, Frank Pakenham, 'the atmosphere was not only obscure but unpleasant?'.2 The report was, however, eventually published as Social Insurance and Allied Services -- Report by Sir William Beveridge on 1 December 1942. The report set out the long series of proposals that Beveridge had devised over the previous twelve months. The patchwork of piecemeal services that had evolved since the 1890s was to be replaced by a single system of comprehensive social security covering the whole community and largely financed by contributory insurance. The system would be underpinned by three basic 'assumptions' -- that there would be a universal national health service, family allowances, and policies for full employment -- and as each of these fell strictly outside the ambit of insurance they would be financed by the national exchequer. Common law suits against employers for accidents and diseases incurred at work were to be replaced by 'no-fault' contributory insurance, leading eventually to 'a completely unified scheme for disability without demarcation by the cause of disability'. Benefits were to be paid at subsistence-level except for long-term industrial injury benefits, which would be based on previous earnings, and old-age pensions, which would build up to subsistence over an interval of twenty years. Approved societies were to be abolished, but voluntary associations would continue to act both as administrative agents of the state, and as vehicles of saving and self-help beyond the subsistence minimum. Public assistance was to be transferred to the national exchequer, and industrial assurance was to be taken over by an administrative board and run as a'public service'. The whole system of income maintenance was to be co-ordinated

____________________
1
Bassfield Papers, B. Webb's diary, 26 Oct. 1942.
2
Frank Pakenharn, Born to Believe ( 1953), p. 132.

-413-

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