The Roots of Public Pensions Provision: Social Insurance and the Beveridge Plan

Jose Harris

in Britain's Pensions Crisis

Published by British Academy

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780197263853
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734281 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Occasional Papers

The Roots of Public Pensions Provision: Social Insurance and the Beveridge Plan

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William Beveridge and his Report on Social Insurance and Allied Services of 1942 continue to occupy a pivotal position in the history of social security provision not only in Britain and Europe but also in the wider world into the twenty-first century. This chapter examines why the Beveridge Plan and its ideas were so popular and seemingly so authoritative. Although Beveridge's long public career in social policy had been mainly concerned with the quite different sphere of unemployment insurance, his ideas about old-age pensions did not spring from nowhere in 1941, but dated back to the year 1907. In 1908, he became a personal adviser to Winston Churchill at the Board of Trade, where he was instrumental in inserting many of his ideas about social insurance into the unemployment provisions of the National Insurance Act of 1911. At the time of his appointment as chairman of the Social Insurance Committee in June 1941, Beveridge had almost no specialist knowledge of pensions administration or pensions finance.

Keywords: William Beveridge; Britain; social insurance; Beveridge Plan; old-age pensions; pensions finance; unemployment insurance; National Insurance Act; Social Insurance Committee

Chapter.  4820 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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