An editorial in The Independent asks if needs-based welfare has run its course. Should the contributory principle (the basis of Beveridge’s social insurance) make a come back?
In the longer term, the Government should also canvass views about a more contributory benefits system. Much current popular resentment reflects a feeling that there are people getting something for nothing, whether they are new migrants or those who have never worked. Over the years, the role of contributions has been reduced, and greater emphasis placed on need. This shift may now have run its course. A return to more contributory benefits might at once make the system seem fairer to all, without discriminating against new migrants.
We absolutely agree that that “the Government should also canvass views about a more contributory benefits system”. Re-building the welfare system for the kind of society Britain is today needs to start with grown-up conversations about what people believe is workable and fair. For a Westminster political class that’s grown out of touch with the public, this could be a great way to re-start relationships.