Social Security Guide : The White Paper and the Beveridge Report Compared
1944-10-01 1944 1940s 20 pages and wife together is kept at 40/- a week, this means cutting into the margin." (Para. 231). The Government White Paper overlooks these dilemmas. It accepts the Beveridge figures, but makes neither prophecy nor assumption about the post-war cost-of-living. This...
|Institution:||MCR - The Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick|
London : The Social Security League
1 October 1944
and wife together is kept at 40/- a week, this means cutting into the margin." (Para. 231). The Government White Paper overlooks these dilemmas. It accepts the Beveridge figures, but makes neither prophecy nor assumption about the post-war cost-of-living. This is the more disconcerting as there is now a general expectation that prices will, in fact, be at least 33 per cent. above the 1938 level. In this case the "margin" will go, and benefit will only be adequate for the paragon housewife, for, as Sir William Beveridge explains, if the margin is left out his calculations "assume complete efficiency in expenditure, i.e., that the unemployed or disabled person buys exactly the right food and cooks and uses it without waste." There is no doubt about the Government's attitude to the subsistence principle. The White Paper says:— "In fixing the rates of benefit ... the Government have considered whether it would be practicable to adopt a subsistence basis for benefits. In the debates of February, 1943, they expressed the preliminary view that it was not practicable and further examination of the question has confirmed this view. "... the definite linking of benefit to subsistence rates might involve the frequent variation of benefit rates in accordance with the cost of living. It is true that it would be possible to ignore minor fluctuations, but the main objection would remain." (Para. 12). The subsistence principle may be defined as follows:— Social Security benefit should be so calculated that, at the current cost of living, it will provide for the recipient that basic minimum which current scientific and nutritional knowledge estimates to be sufficient to keep him in a state of physical wellbeing. It is this principle which the Government unconditionally rejects. 4. FOR HOW LONG? — The Beveridge Report recommends that "benefits continue indefinitely without means test, so long as the need continues." At present unemployment and sickness benefit are limited to 30 and 26 weeks respectively. After that, if the claimant is still not earning, he must, if unemployed, draw Unemployment Assistance from the Assistance Board after a test of need. If he has been drawing sickness benefit, he will receive Disablement Benefit at 10/6 which runs indefinitely, until he returns to work or becomes eligible for an old age pension. If he needs further help to maintain his family, he must get this from the Poor Law. (1) — Sickness. Once the Beveridge Plan were operating fully, sickness benefit would run continuously, without income condition and at the full rate, until the claimant returned to work or qualified for old age pension. He would never, while sick, have to have his basic needs supplied through assistance. The Government think this proposal dangerous: — "They feel that sickness benefit of unlimited duration would be psychologically unwise and would tend to encourage those 7