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The origins of social security lie much further back in our social history than the Beveridge Report - Explain and discuss this statement.

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Rachael Wrigley The origins of social security lie much further back in our social history than the Beveridge Report. Explain and discuss this statement. Social security is defined as the provision made by the welfare state to people who cannot afford to provide themselves. To answer the statement above, I will be comparing the policies of the Beveridge Report with legislation that had previously been in use. These will include the Elizabethan Poor Laws, 1834 Poor Law and the Liberal Reforms. The 14th Century Poor law had introduced legislation, which punished able-bodied beggars and required them to stay in their home districts, as each parish was required to look after its own poor. This stimulated a very negative attitude towards the poor, they were seen as a nuisance and many believed that they had caused it themselves. The Elizabethan Poor Law was set up to provide uniformity to the local parishes and to stop the poor being idle. Overseers were provided to collect voluntary contributions from wealthier residents in the parish, these would become compulsory and would later be known as rates. ...read more.


Again, poverty was brought to the attention of the public, especially the Liberal party. When the Liberal party was voted into government in 1905, numerous changes were made to policies regarding poverty. The Liberal Reforms started in 1906 and new social policies provided free school meals and medical examinations for children that needed them. The attitude towards the poor was slowly changing, more help was offered for those in need. The liberals were responsible for the introduction of non-contributory pensions and the National Insurance Act, which provided healthcare and unemployment insurance for workers. They also provided labour exchanges, making it easier for those in search of a job to find employment. Primary education was made compulsory, as were contributions. Poverty was becoming more of a shared problem. Although the reforms were not universal and each area of reform was dealt with separately, the system worked well until after the war but after the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the system started to fail. This was because of the huge rise in unemployment; national insurance figures fell, as contributions could not be made. ...read more.


There are many similarities between the Beveridge Report and previous legislation. The Elizabethan Poor Law first used local taxes to fund those in poverty in the form of outdoor relief, the Poor Law also tried to provide a uniformed system as did the 1834 Amendment Act, which also provided allowances for the sick, infirm and disabled. Both the Amendment Act and Beveridge Report were nationally organised and both used means testing as did the reforms of the Liberal government. The Liberal government also provided provision based on compulsory contributions. The attitudes towards poverty were also similar between the Liberals and Beveridge, poverty was seen as the fault of society, not the individual. Although Beveridge lay down the foundation of the welfare state, state provision was being made long before his report in 1942. Beveridge's policies were said to be 'evolutionary and not revolutionary' and I believe that this is because his ideas were based on previous legislations, which he simply brought up to date. It is proven by the number of similarities between Beveridge's policies and the policies that had been in use previously. ...read more.

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