Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Beveridge and IDS

William Beveridge, who died fifty years ago last month, would have approved of the stated aims of Iain Duncan Smith, of making it more worthwhile for people to go to work than to subsist on state handouts. However, he would not condone the running down of the government's employment services, successors to the national system of labour exchanges which he first proposed in 1905, and which he would be instrumental in setting up for Winston Churchill (then a Liberal) at the Board of Trade four years later. He would also deprecate the lack of regular training to tackle long-term unemployment which was part of his ideas.

I knew that Bismarck's Prussia had been the inspiration for Lloyd George's introduction of an old age pension, but I hadn't realised until I read Beveridge's entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography that the latter had done much of the research necessary for its implementation in the UK. (There is confirmation here.) I'm sure Beveridge would have approved of Steve Webb's pension guarantees. I trust that he would have condemned the unrealistic limit of 1% for other benefits.

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