William Beveridge

Infobox Person
name = William Beveridge


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birth_date = birth date|1879|3|5|df=y
birth_place = Rangpur, India (now Bangladesh)
death_date = death date and age|1963|3|16|1879|3|5|df=y
death_place = Oxford, Oxfordshire, England.
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nationality = British
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known_for = Work towards founding Britain's welfare state.
education = Charterhouse School and Balliol College, Oxford.
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occupation = Economist
title = 1st Baron Beveridge
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:"For the Scottish footballer and athlete, see William Beveridge (footballer)"William Henry Beveridge, 1st Baron Beveridge (5 March 1879 – 16 March 1963) was a British economist and social reformer. He is perhaps best known for his 1942 report "Social Insurance and Allied Services" (known as the "Beveridge Report") which served as the basis for the post-World War II Labour government's Welfare State, including especially the National Health Service.

Early life and career

William Beveridge, the eldest son of Henry Beveridge, an Indian Civil Service officer and Annette, was born in Rangpur, British India’s Bengal (now Rangpur, Bangladesh), on 5th March 1879. After studying at Charterhouse School and Balliol College, Oxford, he became a lawyer.

Beveridge became interested in the social services and wrote about the subject for the "Morning Post" newspaper.

In 1908, now considered to be the United Kingdom's leading authority on unemployment insurance, he joined the Board of Trade, and helped organize the implementation of the national system of labour exchanges.

In 1909 Beveridge was appointed Director of Labour Exchanges; his ideas influenced David Lloyd George and led to the passing of the 1911 National Insurance Act. During Asquith's Liberal government of 1908 to 1914 Beveridge was asked to advise Lloyd George on Old Age Pensions and National Insurance; the government began to take action to combat poverty.

During World War I (1914–1918) Beveridge was involved in mobilising and controlling manpower. After the war, he was knighted and made permanent secretary to the Ministry of Food.

In 1919 he left the civil service to become director of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Over the next few years he served on several commissions and committees on social policy.

Lord Beveridge was so highly influenced by the Fabian Society socialists – in particular by Beatrice Potter Webb, with whom he worked on the 1909 "Poor Laws" report – that he could readily be considered one of their number. However, he was perhaps the best economist among them – his early work on unemployment (1909) and his massive historical study of prices and wages (1939) being clear testaments to his scholarship. The Fabians made him a director of the LSE in 1919, a post he retained until 1937. His continual jousts with Cannan and Robbins, who were trying to wrench the LSE away from its Fabian roots, are now legendary.

An important role he performed in 1933, which is sometimes forgotten nowadays, was helping set up the Academic Assistance Council. This helped prominent German Jewish academics escape Nazi persecution.

In 1937, Beveridge was appointed Master of University College, Oxford.

Main work on social security

Three years later, Ernest Bevin, Minister of Labour, asked him to look into existing schemes of social security, which had grown up haphazardly, and make recommendations. In 1941, the government ordered a report on how Britain should be rebuilt after World War II; Beveridge was an obvious choice to take charge.

The Report to the Parliament on Social Insurance and Allied Services was published in 1942. It proposed that all people of working age should pay a weekly "national insurance" contribution. In return, benefits would be paid to people who were sick, unemployed, retired or widowed. Beveridge argued that this system would provide a minimum standard of living "below which no one should be allowed to fall".

It recommended that the government should find ways of fighting the five 'Giant Evils' of Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness. This led to the setting up of the modern Welfare State (the culmination of the Fabians' project) with a National Health Service (NHS):

"19.Plan for social security : XI.Medical treatment covering all requirements will be provided for all citizens by a "National Health Service" organised under the health departments and post-medical rehabilitation treatment will be provided for all persons capable of profiting by it".

One of its most remarkable assets was the convincing manner of Beveridge's argument which made it so widely acceptable: Beveridge appealed to conservatives and other doubters by arguing that the welfare institutions he proposed would increase the competitiveness of British industry in the post-war period, not only by shifting labour costs like healthcare and pensions out of corporate ledgers and onto the public account, but also by producing healthier, wealthier and thus more motivated and productive workers who would also serve as a great source of demand for British goods.

Beveridge saw full employment (which he defined as unemployment of no more than 3%) as the pivot of the social welfare programme he expressed in the 1942 Beveridge Report, and "Full Employment in a Free Society" (1944) expressed how this goal might be gained. [ According to Nobel Laureate Friedrich Hayek, this book was ghost-written by Nicholas Kaldor. Hayek said of Beveridge, " [H] e wasn't the least interested in economics. He knew no economics whatever." Cf. Kresge, Stephan, and Wenar, Leif, "Hayek on Hayek", (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1994), p. 86. ] Alternative measures for achieving it included Keynesian-style fiscal regulation, direct control of manpower, and state control of the means of production. The impetus behind Beveridge's thinking was social justice, and the creation of an ideal new society after the war. He believed that the discovery of objective socio-economic laws could solve the problems of society.

Later career

A second report, "Full Employment in a Free Society", appeared in 1944. Later that year, Beveridge, who had recently joined the Liberal Party, was elected to the House of Commons, in a by-election to succeed George Charles Grey, who had died on the battlefield in Normandy, France, on the first day of Operation Bluecoat on 30 July 1944. Beveridge briefly served the constituency of Berwick-upon-Tweed.

The following year the new Labour Government began the process of implementing Beveridge's proposals that provided the basis of the modern Welfare State. Clement Attlee and the Labour Party defeated Winston Churchill's Conservative Party in the 1945 general election. Attlee announced he would introduce the Welfare State outlined in the 1942 Beveridge Report. This included the establishment of a National Health Service in 1948 with taxpayer funded medical treatment for all. A national system of benefits was also introduced to provide 'social security' so that the population would be protected from the 'cradle to the grave'. The new system was partly built on the National Insurance scheme set up by Lloyd George in 1911.

In 1946 Beveridge was made Baron Beveridge, of Tuggal in the County of Northumberland, and eventually became leader of the Liberals in the House of Lords. William Beveridge was the author of "Power and Influence" (1953). He died at his home on 16 March 1963 and was buried in Thockrington churchyard, on the Northumbrian moors. His barony became extinct upon his death.

His last words, as he sat up in bed whilst still working on his 'History of Prices', were "I have a thousand things to do".

Works

*"Unemployment: A problem of industry", 1909.
*"Prices and Wages in England from the Twelfth to the Nineteenth Century", 1939.
*"Social Insurance and Allied Services", 1942. (Beveridge Report) - excerpts available from [http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1942beveridge.html Modern History Sourcebook] .
*"Full Employment in a Free Society", 1944.
*"The Economics of Full Employment", 1944.
*"Why I am a Liberal", 1945.
*"Plan for Britain: A Collection of Essays prepared for the Fabian Society" by G D H Cole, Aneurin Bevan, Jim Griffiths, L F Easterbrook, Sir William Beveridge, and Harold J Laski (Not illustrated with 127 text pages). [ Detail taken from "Plan for Britain" published by George Routledge with a date of 1943 and no ISBN ]

Resources

* Jose Harris, "William Beveridge: A Biography," Oxford U. Press (1997) ISBN 0198206852
* [http://archives.lse.ac.uk/dserve.exe?dsqServer=lib-4.lse.ac.uk&dsqIni=Dserve.ini&dsqApp=Archive&dsqDb=Catalog&dsqCmd=Overview.tcl&dsqSearch=(RefNo='beveridge') William Beveridge's archives are held at the London School of Economics.]

Footnotes

reflist

ee also

*Aneurin Bevan, Clement Attlee's Health Minister
*Socialism
*Liberalism
*Contributions to liberal theory
*List of United Kingdom MPs with the shortest service

External links

*Spartacus Educational on [http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/TUbeveridge.htm William Beveridge] and [http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WWbeveridgereport.htm The Beveridge Report]
* [http://www.sochealth.co.uk/history/beveridge.htm An "Executive Summary" of the 300-page Beveridge Report]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/beveridge_william.shtml BBC information]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/greatlives/ BBC Radio 4, Great Lives - Downloadable 30 minute discussion of William Beveridge]
* [http://archives.lse.ac.uk/dserve.exe?dsqServer=lib-4.lse.ac.uk&dsqIni=Dserve.ini&dsqApp=Archive&dsqDb=Catalog&dsqCmd=Overview.tcl&dsqSearch=(RefNo='beveridge') Catalogue of William Beveridge's papers at the London School of Economics (LSE Archives)]


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