Tag Archives: beveridge

Trying to be the voice of carers is no good without a strategy

If I am honest, I am only just hanging on as a member.

I was desperate for Layla Moran to win the Leadership election. With her modern day articulation of Charles Kennedy’s ‘The Future of Politics’ – the book which persuaded me to join the Party in 2002. She was unsullied by the Coalition years; she was the fresh, engaging face that I wanted (and still want) for the Party.

I went to ground after the Leadership election. Trying to be a good member. Trying not to be too critical of the new Leader. But with months on top of a year’s …

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The time is now for planning Beveridge-2

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Post-Covid and after the delivery of Brexit, our country needs radical reforms of the kind Sir William Beveridge proposed for the end of the Second World War. He wanted a comprehensive programme of reforms, to cover the social injustice and unfairness he saw around him. The reforms should result in alleviating poverty, limiting disease, stopping homelessness, improving education and providing jobs for everyone who needed them.

These are the areas in which radical reform is needed again today. The social contract that existed between government and people in the post-war world has broken down and requires renewing. The Liberal Democrats as the heirs of the Liberal Beveridge are uniquely well placed to demand a new Beveridge-type reform plan.

A business motion has now been sent to the Conference Committee for possible debate at our March Conference. Entitled Beveridge-2 Plan within a Social Contract, it calls for the party to pursue a campaign for a Beveridge-type Plan of radical reforms. The Plan should seek solutions for all the social ills which afflict our country and which have worsened so much recently. It must focus on relieving the growing poverty and restoring full employment, on providing integrated and sufficient health and social care, on ensuring that there are enough homes including social housing available at affordable cost, and on remedying the growing deficiencies of education for all children.

The motion proposes a radical way forward to create the Plan. It requires the party to immediately establish a Commission, to consider urgently how our policies may be grouped and developed to constitute the new Plan, asking progressive politicians and academics to contribute to it. The Commission would then report to Conference next autumn on how the work is developing, with a recommendation that the Policy Committee develop a Consultation paper on the Plan for the Spring Conference next year.

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How the Social Contract idea can serve both our party and the country

It is easy to be high-minded about the Social Contract idea, which may be why it is not yet universally known or accepted. Yes, it is a vision of addressing the main social ills of this country, campaigning to have them put right. And yes, it gains legitimacy by assuming the mantle of William Beveridge, the Liberal who produced a great Reform plan during the Second World War, including a demand that ‘five giant evils’ of the time should be destroyed by following his plans.

What could be more appropriate for the Liberal Democrats to campaign on, than a plan developed during the current world crisis, to tackle the huge social ills which are modern equivalents of those which Beveridge saw? It can also meet the present mood in the country for major beneficial change, which is comparable to that felt by the British people suffering in that devastating War

To demand a new post-COVID Social Contract, the equivalent of the post-War Social Contract is not just poetic; it is practical and far-reaching. Just as in Beveridge’s time, the social ills here today existed before the present crisis, and are likely to worsen as the immediate remedial measures come to an end.

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A sixth social “evil”?

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William Beveridge listed five ‘great evils’ (Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness) that he thought should be remedied by British society after World War Two, and they were addressed by the post-war government, in what has become known as a social contract between government and people.

In a February article, we suggested that the modern equivalents of the ‘great evils’ are poverty, poor health, lack of skills and training, homelessness and unemployment. These societal ills were in existence before the current health crisis, and should not be allowed to continue after it.  Just as after World War Two there was a national mood expecting change for the better, so a similar mood seems to be arising now. Must we stick to only five ills, because Beveridge did? Should there be a sixth and if so what should it be?

At their Spring Conference in 2018 the Welsh Liberal Democrats identified loneliness as a sixth evil stating “half a million people in Wales reporting feeling lonely”. In the UK there are over 9 million adults who are either always or often lonely (“Trapped in a Bubble” by the Loneliness Action Group led by the British Red Cross and the Co-op).  Loneliness can make a person feel tired, stressed and anxious so they have difficulties with daily routines, engaging socially with others and can make mental and physical problems worse.

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