When I first came across this nodeshell, I thought it a misspelling of "Beverage Report". But out of curiosity I let Google loose on the subject and found out that there is indeed a report written by one Sir William Beveridge, which was presented in 1942 to the British Parliament.

Like most pieces of government literature, this Report is voluminous enough to merit being called a book, 300 pages in this case. I confess to not having read the Report, and indeed to only having skimmed the summary I found in my reference.

The title is

Social Insurance and Allied Services

and sure enough, that seems to be what it's about. Things were going kind of poorly (no pun intended) for the common people of the United Kingdom around World War II and His Majesty set Beveridge to thinking up ways to improve their situation.

The Report details how people can come to be needy (want, as a noun, is the word used in the report) and how regular moderate deductions from peoples' income could be used to provide against such eventualities. While the Report recommends simplifying the procedure by applying flat rates to this and that, the proposal is still sufficiently complex to make anyone's head spin.

The following is what I would consider the heart of the Report:

The main feature of the Plan for Social Security is a scheme of social insurance against interruption and destruction of earning power and for special expenditure arising at birth, marriage or death. The scheme embodies six fundamental principles : flat rate of subsistence benefit ; flat rate of contribution ; unification of administrative responsibility; adequacy of benefit ; comprehensiveness ; and classification. These principles are explained in paras. 303-309. Based on them and in combination with national assistance and voluntary insurance as subsidiary methods, the aim of the Plan for Social Security is to make want under any circumstances unnecessary.

The acceptance of the Beveridge Report by a committee by the Committee on Reconstruction Problems headed by Sir William Jowitt marked the beginning of the Welfare State in Britain and the formation of the National Health Service. While welfare statism is connected with Socialism and viewed disfavorably in the United States, many European countries practice one or both. German Chancellor Bismarck set out to provide for accident, sickness, old-age and disability insurance as early as the 1880s, serving as a historical antecedent for Beveridge.

According to Gritchka, who created the nodeshell, it was by no means a misspelling! From other things he told me, I seem to have understated the magnitude of the importance of this report. In Gritchka's own words:

[The] Beveridge Report is what you might call iconic: a founding, sacrosanct document redefining the nature of our country after the devastation of the War, and people say things like "greatest reform (or shake-up) since the Beveridge Report".
My only excuse is that I live in Germany, where social security and welfare have been considered as givens since... well, see above. I'd hope that every civilized country works on a plan like this, but of course it had to start somewhere. In the case of the UK, it was Beveridge (with his Committee) who set the process in motion.

Spiregrain has pointed out that I refer to England in this WU, but the Report and ensuing legislation likely affected all of the UK. After a rough check in Wikipedia, I've changed "England" to "United Kingdom" in a couple of places and hope for the best.

  • http://www.weasel.cwc.net/beveridge.htm
  • http://www.adam-matthew-publications.co.uk/guides/g014.htm
  • Gritchka
  • Spiregrain

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