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
  • 37192687142_5fa6cabab1_z.jpg

    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 3

Latest Journal Issue: Beveridge at 80

Volume 94, Issue 3

Includes a commentary by Colin Crouch on the dark heart of today's Conservative party, an article by Stewart Lansley tracing the history of ‘crowding out’, and its use as a justification for austerity and state deflation; and Tim Vlandas and Kate Alexander-Shaw debating the political economy of age. In our reports and surveys section, Deborah Mabbett asks where next for curbing London's emissions? The issue also includes a selection of book reviews such as Andrew Gamble on The Culture of Accountability: A Democratic Virtue by Gianfranco Pasquino and Riccardo Pelizzo, and Leila Simona Talani on Europe's Coming of Age by Loukas Tsoukalis.

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