The Labour Party and the Welfare State

The Labour Party and the Welfare State

The Welfare State was introduced by Attlee’s government after their election victory in 1945, in response to the Beveridge Report of 1942. The Welfare State was created by the Labour government to end poverty and look after everyone "from the womb to the tomb" or the "cradle to the grave".


The Beveridge Report had targeted "want" as the issue the country needed to address to improve society as a whole. It stated that the country needed free medical treatment for the people; when people were ill and incapable of working they needed support. All people, the report, stated must live in a "socially secure" country.


The two chief reforms for the Welfare State were the National Health Service and the National Insurance Act of 1946.


The National Insurance Act combined into one scheme the three insurance schemes that already existed covering unemployment insurance, national health insurance and a contributory pension scheme. Under the 1946 Act, insurance was made compulsory for all of the adult population. State funds provided slightly more than 50% of the finances needed. The rest was made up of a combination of employees and employers contributions.


The benefits that the system introduced were wide ranging covering fourteen areas. Probably the most important was the introduction of a retirement pension scheme which superseded the 1908 pension scheme. A family allowance had already been introduced in 1945 by the wartime coalition. With a thorough pension scheme in place and families now receiving financial support, Attlee’s Labour government could claim to have introduced a system that looked after everyone from the "cradle to the grave".


MLA Citation/Reference

"The Labour Party and the Welfare State". 2014. Web.

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