Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The Beveridge Plan (1944)

From the January 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard

In an interview with Maurice Webb of The Daily Herald (July 22nd, 1943), Sir William Beveridge says: " I would not make any important change in my Social Insurance plan, and I am hoping the Government will go ahead with it.”

This was in answer to Webb's query whether, in the light of seven months' public debate on his report, he still stood by its essential principles.

He went on to say that if the plan has any defect it is that it costs the Treasury too little in the early stages, and not too much, as some people allege.

“I do not think any Chancellor of the Exchequer will ever again have the chance to do the same thing so cheaply as now,” said Beveridge.

What an indictment out of the Capitalists' own mouths. Simply thinking in terms of HOW CHEAPLY THEY can try to patch up their old outworn system of society which is as full of holes as a sieve. No thought of human happiness at all.

Sir William said he regarded the operation of his plan as a quite simple and easy matter which ought not to embarrass us or present any insuperable difficulties. “I would like this problem of Social Insurance GOT OUT OF THE WAY,” he said, "so that we can get on to the much more difficult problems of reconstruction which call for attention." 

When asked what he thought the chances were of the Government proceeding to operate his plan, he said he was confident it would do so. And so are we. At any rate it is certain that the Government would not have commissioned Sir William to investigate these matters had they thought he would do it unfavourably to the system to which they so tenaciously cling.

Sir William is now about to begin (as a private venture?) his investigation of Unemployment. He does not expect the Government to be unfriendly to his own personal efforts. Nor do we. For if his findings equal those of his security plan, the Government have nothing to be afraid of at all.

He emphasised that the provision he would make for social security is contingent on avoiding MASS unemployment after the war. "But maintenance of employment doesn’t mean the elimination of all unemployment.” he said.

"In a free society industrial changes and development are bound to cause a small amount of unemployment for which adequate insurance provisions should be made.” But he is quite convinced that given proper direction of resources it will be possible to avoid the grave mass unemployment we had between the wars.

According to Beveridge, then, no real solution has ever been bothered about before to reduce unemployment to the minimum. And even he, the new Saviour of Mankind, openly admits that under Capitalism unemployment must remain, while so many millions are without the means of making life comfortable for those who produce everything and own nothing.

When he talks about adequate insurance provisions, we can be sure that they will be well below what a worker will earn when at work, and for the majority of workers, even in these piping times, that only amounts to subsistence.

Then again, his glib phrase, "proper direction of resources.” And who is going to give proper direction to the resources of the other countries which are bound up with our daily life? And does he think that his family allowances will induce young working-class couples to raise families of cannon fodder “BETWEEN THE WARS" just in time to be old enough to fight those wars?

To Mr. Webb he said it will take about six months to complete his enquiry; at the end of which he will issue a report to the public (on his own private responsibility) setting forth such proposals as seem adequate after a completely objective examination of the whole problem.

Socialists can save him that six months’ enquiry. We can tell him the cause of unemployment. We can also tell him that, short of SOCIALISM, involving as it does the abolition of Capitalism and the Wages System, he will never find the solution.
Samuel Phillips

1 comment:

Imposs1904 said...

Samuel Phillips was a member of the SPGB between 1943 and 1955, eventually lapsing out of membership. He was possibly from the East Midlands, and he was a fitter mechanic.