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Teachers' Notes

Resource created by:  The London School of Economics.

This resource includes primary source documents that can be used to support historical enquiry. They can be used to ask and answer questions about the creation of the welfare state.


Curriculum Links

  • Key Stage 3 History: Challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world 1901 to the present day – the creation of the Welfare State.

Discussion Ideas

  • Beveridge is photographed in front of a cartoon by ‘Low’ depicting him going into the cabinet (government) with boxes and boxes of information and reports. Beveridge asked for a copy of this cartoon.
    Why do you think that Beveridge liked this cartoon?
  • Why do you think Albert E. Opie would write the poem featured on the page 'A Time For Revolutions'?
    Who is Opie referring to by the ‘Boys’?
    Why is it important for them that ‘Poverty’ and ‘Want’ should not reign?
  • Want is one of the ‘Five Giants’. What does it mean?
  • Why did Beveridge broadcast a talk on his report?
  • What does he mean by ‘abolishing Want before enjoying comfort’?
  • Why do you think copies of the report were sent to troops? And dropped as ‘propaganda’?

Evidence Exercise

  • What are the three main assumptions of the Beveridge plan?
  • Who pays into the contributions?
  • What benefits do they get?
  • What else is suggested besides contributions and benefits?
  • What do women receive in the provisions?

Activity Ideas

  • Do a recap exercise on what welfare and health care provision there was before 1939. Talk about the ‘Hungry Thirties’, Means Test and unemployment / Great Depression? Why might full male employment be a priority? Why was the focus on men?
  • Some women got the vote in 1918 and all women got the vote on the same terms as men in 1928. Why do you think it took so long for Eleanor Rathbone to persuade the establishment that a benefit for children should be paid to mothers? What did many women do during the war?
  • Watch the film In Which we Serve (or part of it) or get the class to listen to the song London Pride. Both were written by Noel Coward in 1942, the same year as the Beveridge Report is published. Use the film or song to interrogate ideas of ‘total war’, Blitz spirit, national survival and link back to the Beveridge Report.
  • Why did people want something to hope for?
  • Ask students to argue for implementing the Beveridge Report along the lines of the different parties in 1945: Conservatives a limited version and retaining some fees for doctors (choice of state or private); Liberals – state run but including existing charities / social organisations like church led ones; Labour – completely run by the state with the National Health Service as one health organisation. Get the class to vote on which model they would have.
  • Use the BBC archive broadcasts about the Beveridge Report in 1942 (see Supporting Links in Resources) and then the Labour Government preparations for creating the NHS as sources alongside the documents presented here.