Beveridge at Eighty: Learning the Right Lessons

Nick Pearce, Gavin Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The eightieth anniversary of the Beveridge inquiry is a timely moment to consider how the landmark report is used within contemporary UK politics. Calls for a ‘new Beveridge’ reflect a desire for a rupture with the past and the creation of a radical new welfare consensus. But this reflects a misunderstanding: Beveridge's approach was organic in nature, building on decades of experimentation, politically contested rather than consensual, and intellectually pluralist rather than moored to a single ideological worldview. The real insight Beveridge offers us today flows not from his substantive agenda—which was rooted in a particular set of historic circumstances—but as an approach to securing social reform. Successful welfare advances over the last generation have drawn on these ‘Beveridgean instincts’. Rather than calling for a new twenty-first century blueprint to be handed down from above, reformers should build on experimentation and successful incremental change, from within the UK and abroad.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolitical Quarterly
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2023

Keywords

  • Beverirdge
  • Welfare State
  • Social reform

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