The Beveridge Report

In 1941, the Liberal politician William Beveridge set out to discover what kind of Britain people wanted to see after the war.

His report, officially entitled Social Insurance and Allied Services, was a key part of the plans to rebuild and improve Britain after the war had ended.

William Beveridge addresses a crowd from a podium in a hall.
William Beveridge speaks to an audience in London about his report

As a result of this research, he declared that there were five giants on the road to reconstruction. These were:

  • want – an adequate income for all
  • disease – access to health care
  • ignorance – a good education
  • squalor – adequate housing
  • idleness – gainful employment

To help make a better Britain and to tackle these five ‘evil giants’, he proposed setting up a welfare state.

Ideas from the Beveridge Report on how to tackle the five 'giants' in society - free medical care, free education, improved housing, social security and full employment.

Why did so many politicians and people want to establish a welfare state?

People had sacrificed so much during World War Two, they believed they had fought for a better future and deserved it for their contribution to the war. Many believed in a fairer society with:

  • free medical care
  • old age pensions
  • affordable housing

The idea was to offer people a safety net from the cradle to the grave. It was a key Labour party policy, as promised in the 1945 election campaign.