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The Welfare State

After the Second World War the incoming Labour government introduced the Welfare State. It applied recommendations from the pioneering civil servant Sir William Beveridge and aimed to wipe out poverty and hardship in society.

Review the context material and investigate sources across this time period. Use this knowledge to find your own answers to the question presented in the writing frame tool.

1940's context and selected sources

William Henry Beveridge, 1st Baron Beveridge (1879-1963) was a British economist and social reformer whose report changed the face of Britain.

Britain was determined to move forward after the war years. The Labour Party envisaged a society in which all citizens would be free from the fear of poverty and ill health.

Study this vision, the expectations it created and the challenges it posed for governments.

1951-1964 context and selected sources

In 1952 houses are allocated by lottery. People waiting for homes vastly outnumber supply.

Although the Conservatives believed people should support themselves, they knew that cutting welfare provision would be political suicide.

Investigate how the Conservatives managed the conflict between ideology and welfare policy.

1964-1970 context and selected sources

Mothers and babies at baby clinic.

The Labour Party felt it necessary to protect and develop their creation, the Welfare State, but were beginning to realise the strain its rising costs would bring.

Examine how Labour tried to find a balance between conflicting demands.

Further reading

  • Johnson, P., 20th Century Britain: Economic, Social and Cultural Change (London: Longman, 1994)
  • Fraser, D., The Evolution of the British Welfare State (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002)
  • O Morgan, K., The People's Peace (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987)
  • Clarke, P., Hope and Glory: Britain 1900-1990 (London: Penguin, 1996)