Wednesday, 26 October 2011

John Humphrys on the Welfare State

Loyal readers of the Sunday Times will have seen John Humphrys writing in this week's 'News Review' section, promoting his upcoming programme on the Welfare State (in something of a coup for the BBC, right alongside Andrew Marr's piece on his upcoming programme and book about The Diamond Queen).

The welfare state, the brain-child of Sir William Beveridge (Liberal), is something which has inevitably effected almost all of us over the course of the past 70 years, since his self-titled report was published. His goal? To rid society of the five great ills: want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness. However, is the idea of paying people not to work to alleviate idleness not the paradox that now does so much damage to our society?

With 2.57 million people currently unemployed, and similar numbers claiming sickness benefits, the case can be made. And has been. And is being made now more strongly than ever. In the 1990s, Bill Clinton launched a welfare revolution, turning welfare into workfare and taking benefits away from those who would not work in the United States. Did that work? Will it work in the UK? And is it in the best interests of all that is does?

John Humphrys' 'The Future State of Welfare' is on BBC this Thursday at 9pm.

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