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Case study: The Beveridge Report

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. 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.

Looking at the documents:

Most of these digitised documents are included in our online collection of documents relating to British healthcare between 1900-1948 - a free resource which includes more examples of documents about the Beveridge Report. Click on the thumbnails and links in the sections below to see the whole document. Once you have opened the document, use the + and - sliding scale immediately above the image to zoom in and out. Click on the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons (above the 'Print' and 'Download' buttons) to move to the next and previous pages.


Document 1

Beveridge Report: Pictoral charts with explanatory notes, January 1943
The Beveridge Plan illustrated, January 1943

These pictorial charts, with explanatory notes, were produced and sold by the Pictorial Charts Service shortly after the publication of the Beveridge Report. The company suggests that the charts can be used "for display on factory notice boards, in canteens, at meetings, and may also be reproduced in journals" - an demonstration of the broad popular interest in Beveridge's proposals.

[Included in a file of correspondence and papers re the Beveridge Report and National Insurance, from the archives of the Transport and General Workers' Union; document reference: 126/TG/377/1/1 - permission from the union is needed to view the whole file]


Document 2

'What is this "Beveridge Report"?', March 1943

Explanation of the Beveridge Report produced by the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), and published as part of its regular 'News for Citizens' series. The summary includes general information about the background to the report and its contents, together with comments on the "political crisis" that it has caused.

[Included in the archives of the YWCA; document reference: 243/1/9]


Document 3

'What they say about the Beveridge Report', January 1943

"A documentary of opinion" published in the left-wing journal 'Left'. This provides a survey of the initial reaction to the Beveridge Report from newspapers and journals on all sides of the political spectrum, and includes examples of quotes both in favour and opposed to the proposals.

[Included in a file on the Beveridge Report and social insurance, from the papers of Reg Groves; document reference: 172/BE/7]


Document 4

Report on the Beveridge proposals, 19 January 1943
Report on the Beveridge proposals, 19 January 1943

This 20 page report was produced by an internal committee of the Conservative and Unionist Party, set up with the following terms of reference: "As members of the Conservative Party to analyse the merits of, and objections to, the main proposals and assumptions of the Beveridge Report".

[Included in a file on Social Services and insurance, January-February 1943, from the archives of the British Employers' Confederation; document reference: 200/B/3/2/C216/5]


Document 5

"Are you supporting the Beveridge Plan?", February 1944 
"Are you supporting the Beveridge Plan?", February 1944

Postcard sent to Members of Parliament on behalf of the members of the 1/904 branch of the Transport and General Workers' Union. They ask for MPs to fight to pass the measures in full "as the very minimum first step to a better world" after the war.

[Included in a file of correspondence and papers re the Beveridge Report and National Insurance, from the archives of the Transport and General Workers' Union; document reference: 126/TG/377/1/1 - permission from the union is needed to view the whole file]


Document 6

Text of election broadcast, 1950
Text of election broadcast, 1950

Broadcast made by the Labour Party MP James Griffiths in the run up to the 1950 general election. Griffiths served as Minister for National Insurance between 1945-1950, and was therefore a key figure in the introduction of the post-war welfare state. In his speech he contrasts the state of the country in 1950 with pre-war conditions, and emphasises the benefits from the introduction of welfare reforms.

[Included in a file of publicity material for 1950s general elections, part of the archives of the Transport and General Workers' Union; document reference: 126/TG/RES/X/1004A/1]