ABSTRACT

TheBritishWelfareStatehasarelativelyshorthistoryandisnow thesubjectofpoliticaldebateandconsiderablerestructuring.Itwas establishedinthe1940swiththeimplementationofapackageof governmentpoliciesthatheraldedstateinterventiononamuch largerscaleandinamoresystematicwaythaneverbefore.A nationalhealthservice(NHS)wascreatedwiththeintentionof providingauniversalhealthcareservicefreeatthepointofuse. Compulsorysecondaryeducation,akeyelementofthe1944EducationAct,wasintroducedwiththestatedpurposeofequalisingthe educationalopportunitiesofchildrenfromdifferentsocialclasses.A systemofsocialsecurity,drawinglargelyonthephilosophyoutlined intheBeveridgeReport(Beveridge,1942),replacedthelesssignificantsocialinsuranceschemesoftheearlytwentieth-centuryLiberal governments,andwasseenbymanyastheinstrumentbywhich povertywouldbeeradicated.Thestatereplacedprivatecharitiesas themainproviderofpersonalsocialservices,andintervenedinthe provisionofhousinginawayundreamedbeforetheSecondWorld War.(Usefulfactualsummariesofthedevelopmentofthewelfare statecanbefoundinSkedandCook(1979),Marwick(1982), Morgan(1990)andWilliamson(1990).)

Forthreepost-wardecades,increasesinscopeandmomentum characterisedgovernmentdecisionsaboutinterventioningeneral andsocialpolicyinterventioninparticular.Thefoundationsofthe welfarestatewerebuiltuponbysucceedinggovernments.Welfare stateexpansiontookplacethroughouttheextendedperiodof post-wareconomicgrowthinBritainandevenintheearlyyearsof economicretrenchment.Welfarestatismwasseenasareflection ofapoliticsofconsensuspractisedduringthisperiodbyboth

majorpoliticalparties(Marshall,1965,pp.180-1;1975,p.105; Sullivan,1987,1991,1992;Hennessy,1992;Hill,1993).