Giants, Gods and Goods: Toward a ‘new Beveridge’
Eighty years ago, on December 1st 1942, the Beveridge Report, widely seen as the founding document of the post-1945 Welfare State in the UK, was published. In grandiloquent terms, the report called for an attack on ‘Five Giant Evils’ — Disease, Idleness, Ignorance, Squalor and Want — that needed to be combatted as Britain prepared for peace and post-war reconstruction. Beveridge’s recommendations captured the public mood perfectly. Having made so many sacrifices for a common cause of defeating Nazism, armed forces and civilians alike shared a determination that the peace which followed should be built for the benefit of all. That mood found expression in the post-war Labour government’s pledges to achieve full employment, universal education and a Welfare State, free of the privations and anxieties of poverty, low pay or old age.