Give to get?

Does our welfare system undermine the value of hard work?  Frank Field MP argues ‘yes’ in this month’s Prospect magazine.   (‘Rebuilding Beveridge’.  This article is also available online)

As the seventieth anniversary of the Beveridge Report approaches, Field believes its time for a frank and honest debate about the future of welfare in Britain.  Counselling his own party he writes: “Now is the time for Labour to set out the principles that would underpin a new approach.”

Field goes on to outline what he believes to be Beveridge’s “first principles”:

Beveridge saw his welfare proposals as a means of moulding an active, independent citizenry that practiced the virtues of hard work honesty and prudence.  His fundamental principle was that receipt of welfare was to be dependent on what a person had paid into the scheme.

Should the benefits we receive from the state be linked to what we pay in?  Is the alternative a ‘something for nothing’ society?  Can a system based on contribution be truly compassionate? We believe these questions will be central to the 2012 National Conversation.


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