The Inter-Departmental Committee on Social Insurance and Allied Services, chaired by the economist Sir William Beveridge, was appointed by the coalition government in 1941 to undertake a survey of Britain's social services. The committee's report was presented to parliament in November 1942, and proposed a new type of welfare state to banish "want", provide social insurance "from cradle to grave", and ensure that the type of social deprivation seen during the pre-Second World War economic depression could not happen again. One of the key assumptions of the Report ('Assumption B') was that in the new society there would be a comprehensive national health service available to all. The Beveridge Report received widespread support, and it is seen as the foundation document for the welfare state created by the Labour government of 1945-1951.
Our digital collection contains various documents from 1942-1944 which were produced in response to the Beveridge Report. A selection of these are linked to below.
- Beveridge Report: pictorial charts with explanatory notesLink opens in a new window, 1943. Attempt to summarise the proposals of the Beveridge Report in pictures, produced and sold by the Pictorial Charts Service. The charts were intended for display in the workplace and other public areas.
- News for Citizens: What is this "Beveridge Report"?Link opens in a new window, March 1943. Summary of the recommendations of the Report produced for its members by the Young Women's Christian Association.
- Notes of statement by Sir William Beveridge to the Trades Union Congress General Council at their meeting on 16 December 1942Link opens in a new window. Sir William outlines the similarities and differences between his own scheme and the proposals of the TUC, and answers questions from members of the General Council on aspects of the Beveridge Report.
- Social Security Guide: The White Paper and the Beveridge Report ComparedLink opens in a new window, 1944. This pamphlet, issued by the Social Security League, compares the contents of the Beveridge Report with the proposed reforms set out in the government's White Paper.
- What they say about the Beveridge ReportLink opens in a new window, January 1943. Summary of responses to the Report in the national press (reflecting all political opinions).
- Report on the Beveridge proposalsLink opens in a new window produced by a special committee of the Conservative Party, 19 January 1943. The committee had been quickly established "to analyse the merits of, and objections to, the main proposals and assumptions of the Beveridge Report", and to inform Party policy on the Report.
- British Employers' Confederation memorandum on the Beveridge ReportLink opens in a new window, 10 February 1943. The internal report attempts to analyse the Beveridge proposals and assess what their effects might be for the nation's employers.
- Abridged report of the Trade Union Regional Conference on the Beveridge ReportLink opens in a new window held in Birmingham on 16 January 1943, published by the Midland Federation of Trades Councils. It records the opinions of speakers at one of a series of twenty regional conferences of trade unionists organised to discuss the Beveridge Report and the policy of the Trades Union Congress towards it.
- Memorandum on the Beveridge ReportLink opens in a new window, published by the Communist Party of Great Britain, February 1943. It argues that the Report "falls short" of securing "freedom from want", and objects to government modifications of the proposals.
- Statement of conclusions on the Beveridge ReportLink opens in a new window, made by a special sub-committee of Sunderland Council of Social Service, 18 March 1943. It attempts "to indicate some outstanding points of interest, some doubts and some strong recommendations".
- Letter from a 'rank and file' member of the Fire Brigade Union to the Trades Union CongressLink opens in a new window, urging the complete rejection of the Beveridge Report, which he describes as "a typical Tory move to secure class collaboration and to return to pre-war conditions", 10 December 1942.
- Copy of resolution sent by the Woolwich Arsenal Shop Stewards' Committee to the Prime MinisterLink opens in a new window, February 1943. It protests against the government response to the Beveridge Report, arguing that it "removes the only real incentive to sustained war effort by the men we represent. In the winning of the war as an end in itself we have no interest whatever; but only in so far as victory may be a preliminary to a better social order."
- Copy of a resolution passed by a public meeting of women of Gilfach Bargoed, GlamorganLink opens in a new window, 26 February 1943. It protests against the government's "Go Slow" policy towards the Beveridge Report and calls for immediate action "ere the aged lose hope, and ere our own fighters and workers lose faith in the Atlantic Charter and their visions of a better world."
- Copy of resolution passed by an open air meeting of the Fallowfield Estate Discussion Group, CambridgeLink opens in a new window, 10 March 1943. It argues that "immediate application of the Beveridge Scheme is necessary for winning the War" and calls for government action.
- Copy of resolution passed by Newcastle on Tyne Trades CouncilLink opens in a new window, 14 February 1944. It calls for a "Beveridge Sunday", on which national demonstrations should be held in support of the Beveridge Plan.
- Postcard expressing support for the Beveridge ReportLink opens in a new window, to be sent to Members of Parliament, 1944. The card was produced by the Transport and General Workers' Union.
- Letter from the Honorary Secretary of the National Association of Medical Herbalists of Great BritainLink opens in a new window, expressing concern about the lack of recognition for alternative medicine - "those competent systems of medicine which are at present unrecognised" - in the Beveridge Report, 13 January 1943.
- Short poem mocking the proposals for a post-war welfare stateLink opens in a new window, sent to the British Employers' Confederation, 1 February 1943.
- The Beveridge report and the health servicesLink opens in a new window, leaflet published by the Socialist Medical Association, [1943?]. The SMA responds to 'Assumption B' by outlining its own proposals for a national health service.