The biggest moments in British welfare state history:
1.) 1536-47 Expropriation of the monasteries and priories by Henry VIII which removed much of the church welfare that existed at the time.
2.) 1601 Crystallisation of the Poor Laws that had been created and much changed about during reign of Elizabeth I
3.) 1834 Report of the commission inquiring into the operation of the Poor Laws. These laws had become dysfunctional resulting in many people living on benefits and a rise in lone parents relying on hand-outs from the parishes. This report led to a drastic tightening of conditionality.
4.) 1911 Unemployment insurance introduced by Winston Churchill along with other welfare changes.
5.) 1945/50 Attlee government reformed benefits, influenced by Beveridge report – partly to rectify abuses that had become apparent in the 1930s. Levels of benefit low, partly because of inflation and debt following war.
6.) 2012-14 Iain Duncan Smith reforms – largely to rectify dysfunctionality of a welfare system that had mostly developed during 1960s and 1970s whereby many people were hardly better off working and some people were actually worse off.
These dates obviously refer only to the welfare benefits part of the welfare state and omit such things as housing, healthcare and education. For a longer list including these other aspects, see page VIII of the paperback edition of The Welfare State We’re In.
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