Theme: Political Economy | Content Type: Journal article

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Beveridge at Eighty: Learning the Right Lessons

Gavin Kelly and Nick Pearce


British Government

| 1 min read

The eightieth anniversary of the Beveridge inquiry is a timely moment to consider how the landmark report is used within contemporary UK politics. Calls for a ‘new Beveridge’ reflect a desire for a rupture with the past and the creation of a radical new welfare consensus. But this reflects a misunderstanding: Beveridge's approach was organic in nature, building on decades of experimentation, politically contested rather than consensual, and intellectually pluralist rather than moored to a single ideological worldview. The real insight Beveridge offers us today flows not from his substantive agenda—which was rooted in a particular set of historic circumstances—but as an approach to securing social reform. Successful welfare advances over the last generation have drawn on these ‘Beveridgean instincts’. Rather than calling for a new twenty-first century blueprint to be handed down from above, reformers should build on experimentation and successful incremental change, from within the UK and abroad.

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  • Gavin-headshot-FINAL-e1576149241449_1.jpeg

    Gavin Kelly

    Gavin Kelly is Chair of the Resolution Foundation. He is also a member of the Political Quarterly editorial board.

    Articles by Gavin Kelly
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    Nick Pearce

    Nick Pearce is Director of the Institute of Policy Research, and Professor of Public Policy at the University of Bath. He previously served as the Director of the Institute for Public Policy Research.

    Articles by Nick Pearce
Volume 94, Issue 4

Latest Journal Issue: Beveridge at 80

Volume 94, Issue 4

Includes a collection on Scottish Politics After Sturgeon, edited by Ben Jackson and Anna Killick. This features articles such as 'Independence is not Going Away: The Importance of Education and Birth Cohorts' by Lindsay Paterson; 'Diary of an SNP First Minister: A Chronopolitics of Proximity and Priorities' by Hannah Graham; and 'Politics, the Constitution and the Independence Movement in Scotland since Devolution' by Malcolm Petrie. There are a wide range of other articles including 'Unlocking the Pensions Debate: The Origins and Future of the ‘Triple Lock’ by Jonathan Portes and 'The Politics of England: National Identities and Political Englishness' by John Denham and Lawrence Mckay. Finally, there is a selection of book reviews such as Branko Milanovic's review of Equality: The History of an Elusive Idea by Darrin M. McMahon, and Alexandre Leskanich's review of Cannibal Capitalism by Nancy Fraser.

Find out more about the latest issue of the journal