I would like to discuss in this paper the Beveridge Report and its meaning for our society. I think that the main task of this paper is to find an answer on the question: how the Beveridge Report of 1942 made such a significant contribution to the creation of the NHS and general development of the welfare state. The Beveridge Report has historical meaning and it is necessary to look on it through the prism of historical facts and connect them with issues of social policy. In this paper, we would pay attention on the discussion of the concept “social policy”. Social policy has come a long way of development. Throughout this way, social policy has evolved from providing social insurance against the small amount of risk to create a full-fledged social security system. Basic idea of a new social policy is the implementation of investment in human capital and social capital, thereby reducing the probability of various risks, as well as their negative impact.
The concept “social policy” originated in Western Europe in the late XIX-th and the beginning of the XX-th century, at the early stage of development of market economy. It was found by Titmuss (1951) that social policy became an important element in government policy, as it protects the public from the adverse effects of the market. The first program of health insurance was introduced in 1883, and Otto von Bismarck, who was the first Chancellor of Germany, established old age benefits in 1889. However, the effects of World War I revealed the social problems.
Actions to address these problems were not undertaken until the end of the World War II due to negative economic conditions. After the World War II, we see that many European countries became so-called “welfare states”. The term of “welfare state” includes the state, which has at least a minimum level of institutional support that meets the requirements of its citizens. One of the most influential reports on social policy was the Beveridge Report, 1942, written by William Beveridge in Britain. The report introduced the concept of maintaining the level of income at a certain level through social insurance and the concept of social support, based on an assessment of income. The report set the direction for welfare policies in the postwar period. Social policy has continued to evolve during industrialization in Europe. As a result, public institutions have replaced traditional forms of social security through family and community.
The term “social justice”ť is also necessary in the determination of the notion “social policy”ť.Â According to Barry (2005), “the term social justice has been used to mark the idea that distribution of resources and opportunities in a society, as well as its conditions of work, and the patterns of wages and profits, can be evaluated in terms of how well they meet principles of justice.”ť
Meanwhile, there is no common understanding of the term “social policy”. In general sense, and as it was stated by Nussbaum (2000) we see that it includes the principles and practical implementation of the state, aimed at redistribution of income in order to achieve the welfare. Such understanding primarily based on the belief in social solidarity and social rights of citizens to have a minimum, but very necessary to them standard of living. In this case, basic human needs or a social minimum should be accessible to everyone and should be guaranteed by the state.
This philosophy is the foundation of social policy in the Nordic countries. It contrasts with the vision of Great Britain, that social policy should only complement market mechanisms in achieving social needs.