6. Assessment of the Labour reforms 1945-51 How successful were the Labour reforms at tackling poverty?
Past paper questions • 2013 “The social reforms of the Labour Government of 1945–1951 failed to deal effectively with the needs of the people.” How valid is this view? • 2012 “The Labour Government of 1945 to 1951 met the needs of the people ‘from the cradle to the grave’.” How valid is this view? • 2010 How far did the post-war Labour Government meet the welfare needs of the British people between 1945 and 1951? • 2009 How significant an impact did the welfare reforms of the Labour Government 1945–1951 have on the lives of the British people?
Labour landslide and The Spirit of 45’ • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvNNiOXHhdE • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_c86Gwsb5LY
CONTEXT – POST WWII WORLD • Clement Attlee becomes new PM after Labour landslide victory in 1945 after their manifesto – ‘Let us face the future’. • WWII had been a class leveller, Brits were keen not to return to the old ways of the pre-war world. There was an expectation that government intervention would continue post WWII. • Notion of ‘welfare state’ that cared for its population from the ‘Cradle to the grave’ and thus provided a ‘safety net’ for those in need. • KEY DEBATE – Histories debate whether Labour truly established a welfare state or built on the foundations laid by the Liberals. CLEMENT ATTLEE
CONTEXT - 1942 Beveridge Report • William Beveridge reported on the social ills of Britain during the war and identified ‘5 giants of poverty’ – • WANT (Poverty) • DISEASE (Bad health) • IDLENESS (Unemployment) • SQUALOR (Bad housing) • IGNORANCE (Poor education) • His report was a blueprint to tackle these giants of poverty. 635,000 copies sold = BEST SELLER!
Principles in report for social security system to tackle want - comprehensive ‘from cradle to the grave’ - universal open to all regardless of means - compulsory all in work in scheme - insurance-based all to contribute on weekly basis - flat rate contributions all pay the same - end means testing all would receive regardless of wealth - subsistence benefits minimum necessary for food , clothing, shelter
His report dealt mainly with Want • Other problems had to be conquered. • Disease- a national health service • Idleness- the state would aim for full employment • Ignorance- education reforms • Squalor- house-building and slum clearance • He also assumed that family allowances would be brought in.
LINE OF ARGUMENT • Labour reforms - was their effect positive or negative on British people? • To assess you need to identify the problems and the reforms that were intended to tackle them. Weigh up the positives and negatives and conclude the extent to which they improved lives.
HISTORIOGRAPHY • N. Timmins - This is the greatest advance in our history. There can be no turning point. From now on Beveridge is not the name of a man; it is the name of a way of life’’. • D Fraser – ‘The war was to have decisive influence in producing a common experience and universal treatment for it.’ • M Bruce – ‘The decisive event in the evolution of the welfare state was the Second World War’ • Robert Pearce – ‘By 1951 Labour was seen as the party of the Welfare State. It deserved this reputation.’
WANT (Poverty) KU • Family Allowance Act 1945 – Started by wartime coalition government – 5s per week given for every child after the first. • Industrial Injuries Act 1946 – Compensation paid for all work related injuries – government paid not the employee. All workers covered. Higher benefits of 45s per week. • National Insurances Act 1946 – Compulsory national insurance that covered unemployment, sickness, maternity, widows benefits, pensions, death grant for funeral expenses. 26s for individual, 42s for couple. • National Assistance Act 1948 – A ‘safety net’ for those who were not cared for through the National Insurance scheme i.e. disabled, sick, aged
WANT ARGUMENT • Family allowance - Wife given legal entitlement over the allowance. No stigmatised means testing. • Industrial Injuries – universal and comprehensive – an improvement on before. • Family allowance - Amount was minimal • National Insurance – Only claimed after 156 contributions. Unemployment only given between 184-492 days. • More applied for National Assistance than intended. • A lot of officials needed to operate it thus extra cost. OVERALL, system was not comprehensive as promised. When the benefit rates were decided they were set for the next 5 years without taking into account inflation thus it did not provide basic subsistence. An improvement from before but still a way to go.
DISEASE KU • Poor cannot afford treatment – only 21million (half the population) were covered by previous Liberal reform for National Insurance (sick). • Aneurin Bevan – Minister for Health managed the most significant Labour Reform –NHS 1946. • UNIVERSAL • COMPREHENSIVE • FREE AT POINT OF USE
Task – p90-91 • Note in bullet points facts that prove the success of the NHS • Note in bullet points facts that prove the problems of the NHS
DISEASE KU • Prescriptions increased from 7million per month before the NHS to 13.5 million per month by 1948. • 8 million dental patients treated • 5 million spectacles issued. • Paid for through taxation as National Insurance funds insufficient. • Common reports from citizens praising the benefits to health.
DISEASE ARGUMENT • Immediate demand for previously untreated conditions evidently showed the need for the NHS. • COST – By 1950 cost £358 million/year • Full service could not be provided at first due to lack of hospitals. • Doctors not initially supportive due to the loss of private practice. • Plans for new hospitals had to be scrapped. • Prescription charges had to be brought in for spectacles and dental treatment which angered many and triggered Bevan’s resignation. OVERALL, ‘the greatest single achievement in the story of our welfare state’. Historians differ – C. Webster said it ‘failed to improve the general medical service to the bulk of the population’ due to prescription charges
Tripartite school system: The plan • They were meant to be of equal standard but quickly Grammar schools were known as the best. • Technical schools were never created as planned.
IGNORANCE KU • 1944 Butler Education Act – raised school leaving age to 15. • Quality and fees an issue in schooling. • 20% schools destroyed during Blitz. Task p91-92 • Look at school buildings, system of schooling (types) – note the problems and successes of the Education Act
IGNORANCE ARGUMENT • By 1950, 1,176 new schools built – 928 were primaries which helped with the baby boom 1942-47. • Pupils stayed in school until 15. • Free secondary education for all. • Small number of working class boys went to grammar schools. • Grammar school fees were abolished reducing the cost barrier. • Few secondary's built especially technical. • 11+ test proved to be socially divisive thus holding back poor pupils who could not afford it. • Even with no fees, working class pupils under pressure by family to work. • Secondary moderns offered fewer opportunities for poorer children, eventually phased out for comprehensives.
IDLENESS KU • 1944 – government white paper (proposal for discussion) aimed for full employment. • Solution was nationalisation of industry.
IDLENESS ARGUMENT • Look at p92-93 • Can you find an argument for and an argument against the successes of the Labour government in securing employment? • Some historians argue that the boom in private investment and building in 1945 led to full employment.
IDLENESS ARGUMENT • 2.5% unemployed when they predicted 3%. • Dalton (Chancellor of Exchequer): “The greatest revolution brought by the Labour government”. • Post WWII – reconstruction was necessary therefore Americans loans funded new building programmes that required workers. Labour took the credit.
SQUALOR KU • Slum housing still a problem in 1945 – exacerbated by Clydebank blitz 1941 – 7 out of 12,000 still standing = housing shortage. • Labour promised huge house rebuilding – aimed for 200,000/year. • 1945-48 157,000 pre-fabs were built. • New Town Act 1946 – 14 new towns built e.g. Glenrothes, East Kilbride – emphasis on healthy living
SQUALOR ARGUMENT • Protected poor from unscrupulous landlords. • Separate kitchen, living room and bathrooms, gardens, indoor toilets. • Between 1949 and 1951, an average of 196,300 houses was built per year. In all, about 1 million houses were built by Labour between 1945-51. • Poor housing still a problem. • Still shortages - 1951 census revealed that there were 750,000 fewer houses than there were households in Britain. • Long waiting lists for council houses ended up with some families squatting in disused army camps – appeared a failure.
Drawing a conclusion p 93 • Read the assessments and find the arguments for and against.
CONCLUSION • Broad welfare programme, impressively turned out in a post WWII economy. • More generous spending towards old, sick and poor which has little direct economic benefit - a drain. • Fears that Britain was creating a ‘nanny state’ • 1950s Harold MacMillan famously said “never had it so good” – this feel good factor was rooted in the Labour reforms of the previous decade. • A positive start had been made to housing problem
Now apply to an exam question: 2012 “The Labour Government of 1945 to 1951 met the needs of the people ‘from the cradle to the grave’.” How valid is this view? 40 mins only