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December 11, 2014 / C H Thompson

The welfare state

Social policies engineered to guarantee the well-being of a nation’s population are known as welfare policies. When National Insurancethese welfare polices are co-ordinated by the nation state they are more commonly known as the welfare state.

The state seeks to eliminate poverty, unemployment and ill-health by providing a range of services paid for through taxation, providing social security for its citizens. Up until the 1970s the term social security was the noun more commonly used to describe ‘care’ given by the state to its people this was because people paid a weekly contribution of National Insurance through their pay-packet in exchange for the benefit of social-security.

This is because social security is mainly a means of insuring against economic risk making it an insurance program.

Content analysis of the media would show an increasing use of the term welfare instead of social security during the 1990s more often than not in a derogatory manner – a 1993 Sunday Times splash about lone mothers being “wedded to welfare” being a typical example – hence the common usage of the term welfare to describe social security.

Notwithstanding this changing discourse Britain’s welfare state began with the Beveridge Report of 1942 recommending the creation of state-run welfare services to eliminate the five social curses of want; disease; squalor; ignorance and idleness. The foundation of the National Health Service (NHS) saw the start of the welfare state we recognise today.


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