History free essay: Ways in which the legacy of William Beveridge remains in shaping our ideas of welfare?
Ways in which the legacy of William Beveridge remains in shaping our ideas of welfare?
Perhaps one of the 20th Century sociological policy milestones was achieved through the coherent and relevant findings by Lord Beveridge in the most celebrated report submitted to the British Parliament. At a time when the world of politics was coming to terms with two World Wars in an almost quick succession, Beveridge’s Report kept the world at pace with the developments in the social scene with serious threats to the social setting (Lavalette and Pratt, 2002). Despite a few criticism areas of interpretation of the Report on certain aspects of the social debate, much strength can be picked to assert the applicability of policy decisions in the modern social management. Under the circumstances of a war ravaged continent, Britain was faced with disturbing social challenges that needed urgent consideration, with political incapacitation through heavy spending at the war that made national policy a weary agenda for both the government and public. In light of the main theme captured in the Report, welfare state became the centre piece for the appropriate revolution that would make the society at pace with social justice and recognition (Jones and Lowe, 2002). Ostensibly, welfare state in Britain as suggested by the Report would be improved if focus was devoted to equitable opportunities, women welfare, migrant workers and tackling the five giants. This discourse enumerates the contributions of these findings in revolutionising the global welfare system on whose improvement since then is a reflection of the recommendations of the Beveridge Report.
Lord William Beveridge was assigned the task to compile the state of social welfare that appeared to be faced with many questions despite the level of civilisation at Britain whose expectation would have supported a better performance (William Beveridge Foundation, 2011). While the assignment and delivery happened in 1942, the effective law guiding the affairs of social welfare was a 1601 legislation known as Elizabethan Poor Law Act. A civilisation experiencing dramatic changes in the social front as Britain during the close to three and a half centuries duration of time must have responded with an appropriate interest to cater for welfare needs (Lavalette and Pratt, 2002). Perhaps this reflected how the policy and governance regarding welfare in Britain was out of touch with the remarkable transformation that the society had experienced since the effective date of the law. Support for the poor as a national policy was by far being carried out by an out-dated framework and on an amorphous arrangement. As an illustration, the agrarian and industrial revolutions impacts of change in the social arena arrived with distinct challenges that the old regimes would perhaps not manage to tackle. However, a few amendments on the law coupled with a few new other similar laws did not make the appropriate contribution to the state of management of welfare in a civilisation reminiscent of the complexity within British social setting in the 20th century. Existence of social classes was a problem of the older legal regimes, which pushed for a better version of regulations in a democratic environment based on equal opportunities and justice (Hewitt and Powell, 2002). This legal environment had to be changed to keep up with the pace of developments in the social front achieved at the time of the Second World War.
Beveridge Legacy in Today’s and Future Welfare Policy
One of the main areas of contribution if Beveridge in the establishment of social policy taking care of social welfare was incorporation of non-sectional interests in the effective national policy. Evidently, during the pre-war legal regime in terms of welfare interpretation social classes existed to the detriment of the poor and low ranking members of the society. In a society based on a discriminatory system of resource allocation and distribution, it implied that the groups in welfare need would struggle to obtain such assistance due to the complexity of the system that virtually disqualified them for a fair consideration. The Report identified the main groups that most needed the assistance of a social platform to elevate their opportunity for welfare consideration. The lower classes of the capital system that was firmly rooted in this insensitive system were labourers, housewives, small scale entrepreneurs and others who qualified for a recommended welfare state based on benefits to shield them against theft, bankruptcy, disability, age incapacitation and other benefits in cases of hardships (Gladstone, 1999). Under the recommended welfare state, the Report invoked several statutes to formulate the benefit allowance for various lower class members of the society to deal with the numerous social challenges of the time. Abolition of the sectional stratification in the proposed legal regime to back up the social welfare platform had to be effected by the Report. This implies that the best welfare policy or project must be devoid of classification of people based on factors likely to heighten class rift. Equitable social platforms are the most practical in the modern day that embraces social justice that embraces equitable opportunities for all.
In addition, the plight of the British women was identified a major factor on which welfare must highlight. Whereas an assumption was made to arrive at the nature of the work carried out by women in the social setting under consideration, several domestic chores marginalised women in many instances. This assumption was on the premise that male counterparts were the main full time employees while women were reserved for the home duties that went unremunerated or catered for (Pahl, 1978). Considering the welfare of the British woman in the circumstances of the prevailing environment, the role of the woman in the society was as vital in the social interpretation as that of the full time employed man. To strike a balance on the assumption that men would be covered at the workplace, the Report recommended that women needed welfare support to make their life meaningful in terms of social welfare. Under the women empowerment strategy that the Report recommended, today’s policy emphasis recognises the social role of the woman in the setting that apparently exposes her to less equitable level of opportunity. Dramatic changes in the social arena may perhaps not capture the gender interpretation given in the Report but the origin of the idea was the need to empower women to more welfare sensitive platform in comparison to men. A departure of the heavily patriarchal environment in Britain in the period of compilation can be identified in the modern welfare system which accords higher gender equality opportunities to women when compared to the mid-1940s. Contrary to the exact situation during the time of preparation of the Report, modern woman does not have to leave work indefinitely for maternity reasons alone since men also take paternal leaves. Perhaps such a welfare system originates from the recognition of the fact that gender balance in the system works against biased ideas of the family setting. Modern day policies are focused on the gender parity score where women’s contribution to socioeconomic and political developments is seen as a vital ingredient to the future of the global proceedings (Marcuzzo, n.d).
Alternatively, the migrant worker had a difficult time of adjustment in Britain and perhaps in many parts of Europe during the war. Nationalism and imperialism were closely nourished by certain racist attitudes that locked migrant workers out of the social system in Britain. The creation of the British Empire was heavily based on the superiority ideology among the British to an extent that spirit of racism was almost always confused with beneficial nationalism. To sustain the imperialism feelings and perhaps motivate the entire empire towards greater control of global resources, side-lining outsiders from the cause would be deemed beneficial in many respects (Rodgers, n.d). Sociocultural and biological superiority complex sustained the spirit of unity among the imperial powers elsewhere, making Britain a leader in her political exploits of the time in this respect. Commonly rampant racist spirit was launched against the Irish and Semites. The labour offered by migrant workers during the rebuilding of the bombed cities and infrastructure presented the biggest challenge of welfare in earning benefits when compared with the native British nationals. Remuneration rates were poorly balanced and the terms of the contractual assignment did not favour the migrant worker. Such an environment with a huge imperial stature and ego in need of labour from migrants ranking lower in the nationalism cadre could only subject the social welfare of these workers to despicable mistreatment. The Report recognised the responsibility of the British government to cater for the welfare of the migrant worker who was apparently deprived of an opportunity to make a meaningful life in the foreign land. Perhaps one of the most progressive welfare policy principles of the modern day is based on the availability of desirable environment for every person provided the natives are not endangered socially in a material way. In an environment where globalisation has taken over the developments of all social fronts, it is incomprehensible to alienate privileges from any global citizen in the global village setting.
Furthermore, important legacy on which modern welfare and social policies are based is the tackling of the five giants. Having singled out the most difficult of environments that socially deprived individuals suffer from, Beveridge assisted the government to enumerate the basic steps to facing these challenges. Firstly, want or poverty among the marginalised was identified as one of the most challenging difficulties that the welfare state must dedicate its attention to. Several ways of tackling want have since been identified ranging from economic empowerment and establishment of self-sustainable income generating ventures through credit. Deployment of state resources to enable individuals curb poverty in Britain was perhaps one of the main strengths of the Report in turning around welfare policy. Poverty alleviation as a major social platform for welfare in both developing and developed world has since been a fundamental development target. Secondly, disease was identified as a major stumbling block to proper and humane social environment in which the population can productively thrive in. Health system based on a sustainable coverage of all ages and income classes could only have been after a deliberate move such as that identified by Beveridge in the Report for inclusion into the social policy framework. Provision of affordable and sustainable health coverage is perhaps one of the determinants of the success rating of the global governance in the modern day, indicating the relevance of the Beveridge Report to the current situation.
Thirdly, tackling of squalor manifested in extreme cases of neglect of the needy by the state at a time when they should otherwise be supported highlighted another key element of a functional social system. Leaving those that suffer from hardships to languish in deplorable and filthy environment must be avoided at all costs in a sensitive welfare system. Fourthly, ignorance eradication through proper education system must be a priority of all authorities in this age. Following such foundations, a majority education system is based on provision of basic and affordable education for all as a priority of development (Moses, 2004). Finally, tackling idleness on the premise that utilisation of the available human resources would equip the world with the appropriate arsenals against all suffering was also identified and is in use in many instances. An idle youthful population is perhaps one of the greatest undoing of a society and can be likened to a ticking time bomb. Converting the idle resources into useable possession can transform the social setting in many respects.
In conclusion, while critics prophesied the impracticality of the Beveridge Report by singling out many contradictions of the capitalist environment, it is dawning to them that it is more practical than any other arrangement due to its success in the British welfare state. The future of welfare will be built on the realisation that human empowerment will turn around every obstacle into a manageable challenge or into an opportunity. One of the most celebrated platforms bringing the international community into a welfare consideration is the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that consider empowerment of various groups through financial and education capacitation. Borrowing from the Report, it is clear that encompassing all the relevant challenges of a social system must tackle several issues among them gender, five giants, globalisation and justice in a world experiencing dramatic social changes.
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Hewitt, M. & Powell, M. (2002) Welfare state and welfare change, Buckingham, UK: Open University Press
Jones, M. & Lowe, R. (2002) From Beveridge to Blair, Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press
Kendall, J. (2009) “Volunteering in Europe in the Noughties- What Would Beveridge have Thought?” Retrieved from: http://www.tsrc.ac.uk/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=yStY/2IeyHM=&tabid=500
Lavalette, M. & Pratt, A. (2002) Social policy: a conceptual and theoretical introduction, 2nd ed., London, UK: Sage.
Marcuzzo, M. C (n.d) “Keynes and the Welfare State” Retrieved from: http://www.ie.ufrj.br/eventos/seminarios/pesquisa/texto_02_12.pdf
Moses, M. S. (2004) “Social Welfare, the Neo-conservatism Turn and Educational Opportunity,” Journal of Philosophy of Education, 38(2):275-286
Pahl, J. (1978) Battered women: a study of the Role of a Women’s Centre, London, UK: Department of Health and Social Security/HMSO.
Pulford, L. (n.d) “Participle: Our Inheritance,” Retrieved from: http://www.socialinnovationeurope.eu/node/1758
Rodgers, D. T. (n.d) “Social Politics Across the Great Pond: A Summary of Daniel T. Rodgers, Atlantic Crossings” Retrieved from: http://hsozkult.geschichte.hu-berlin.de/rezensio/symposiu/marks.htm
The Poverty Alliance (n.d) “Sixty-ninth Anniversary of the Beveridge Report” Retrieved from: http://www.povertyalliance.org/news_detail.asp?news_id=47
William Beveridge Foundation (2011) “Sir William Beveridge: A True Visionary” Retrieved from: http://www.beveridgefoundation.org/sir-william-beveridge/
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