Social policy: beveridge evils

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Social policy is used to refer to governmental policies and political settings that affect the general welfare of the public. Most of these policies touch on the guidelines, legislation, principles, and activities concerned with living conditions and human well-being. The living conditions in a country touch on the personal quality of life and welfare. According to Powell (2006), social policy is defined as the action by the government or organization that is concerned with the well-being of the society or individual, and it affects the access and distribution of goods and services to that particular community or individual. The social policy often outlines the government plan or strategy is administering social services such as health, education, income maintenance, and housing among other functions (Hill, and Irving, 2009). Issues affecting the delivery of these services such as age, disability, poverty, and health of the public are also considered in developing of such as policy. In Britain, different academicians came up with various social issues. An example of these scholars is William Beveridge (Edyvane, 2013). However, during his time, problems affecting the society were different to the current issues, and the policies have evolved with time. Since social policies play an essential role in the community, they need to be changed and updated with time to suit the current problems affecting the society.

A report concerning social insurance and allied services in the British government was published in the year 1942. It was written by the adviser of the state and an academician known as William Beveridge. As a result, this report was named the Beveridge report (Abel‐Smith, 1992). Beveridge wrote this report with the hope that it would help in improving the deteriorating state of the British government’s social policy (Leaper, 1991). In his statement, he analyzed five issues which he termed as the five giant evils affecting the society. This government was supposed to develop its social policy using the evils highlighted in this report. These five crimes were: want, ignorance, disease, squalor, and idleness (Isin, and Turner, 2007).According to Beveridge, (2014), fighting these evils was seen as a measure of rebuilding the nation after the effects of the World War 1. They were the leading causes of poverty, and each made a different contribution towards the scourge.

The first evil, want, as the greatest and he said that the people lacked security of income (Beresford, 2005). Therefore, they were unable to satisfy all of their needs as they were left short money to live off. In most cases, the people affected by this evil were the old, disabled and the unemployed ones as they were in no position to work or were not at fault for their unemployed situation. To solve this problem, Beveridge came up with a tested benefit system that was focused on giving a safety net to the poor and unemployed in times of crisis (Walker & Pellissery, 2008). The employer and the employee were responsible for paying for the national insurance scheme. They were supposed to contribute a compulsory flat rate to the scheme which would bail out the poor person whenever the need arose (Henry, 2013). Another scheme was child benefit scheme which was supposed to prevent people from having many children as they had to contribute some money for each of them.

The disease was another evil that was affected the United Kingdom during those times. According to Beveridge, poverty would be reduced if breadwinners and children were protected from untimely and immature deaths (Reeves, Rodrigue & Kneebone, 2016). By losing a sole bread-winner to a particular disease, the family would be subjected to extended periods of poverty. Therefore, he instigated a proposal with the ministry of health that was aimed at providing the public with a medical cover. This scheme would offer a free use of health, optical and dental health services anywhere in the country. Ignorance was another evil, and it involved education. With improved knowledge and parity, more employment opportunities would be available to an extensive population (Bosanquet, 2012). This scheme was aimed at reducing unemployment rates by reducing illiteracy in the society. Therefore, a policy that ensured that children under the age of fifteen would access education free of charge was introduced (Thompson, 2009). The government came up with a building plan that involved the inclusion of a primary and secondary school in every local authority.

Idleness talked about lack of opportunities due to lack of knowledge. According to Beveridge (2014), employment was the pillar of ending poverty. The state was supposed to show commitment as far as the creation of employment opportunities is concerned. People would not support their families without employment (Doherty, 2007). Squalor was another problem and government was supposed to provide for adequate housing with fair living conditions and affordable rent. This move was aimed at nurturing subsistence and future prosperity. It would also create employment opportunities.

The issues affecting the society in the 21st century are a little different from the evils of 1940’s (Timmins, 2001). Some of the current issues affecting the Britain society are greed and individualism, inequality and poverty, immigration and crime, and media bias (Jamieson, 2009, Joseph Rowntree Foundation., 2009). Media bias is the worst evil in the lot. While most researchers are researching societal issues such as crime, political injustice and other wickedness in the society, they ignore the influence the media has on the modern population. The content presented in the contemporary press and music art give ill-advised ideologies to the public. In most movies, guns and killings are just a regular part of life and can be adopted for revenge purposes. Crime in the society is encouraged by the content in the music industry such as hip-hop. The activities of the current generation are affected by media, and there is no telling what will happen in the future if the government does not develop a policy aimed at controlling the content in the media. School going children are affected by guns as other children see them on televisions and steal them from their parents to use on their less favorite children (Ball, 2016). It happened in the United States which left 12 students and a teacher dead.

Poverty is another contemporary evil in the society. The British prime minister, David Cameron says that poverty is a disgrace to the United Kingdom. Poverty can be defined as the lack of basic human needs such as food, clean water to drink, shelter, and clothing. It affects children in various ways as if a child is born from a low-income family they miss proper education (Dodds & Elden, 2008). Without appropriate education, they are not in a position of fighting for employment opportunities with the rest. However, poverty is relative as scholars argue that there is no absolute poverty. They say that ” individuals, groups, and families can be said to be in poverty when they lack the resources to obtain the types of diet, participate in the activities and have living conditions and amenities which are customary, or at least widely encouraged and approved, in the society to which they belong” (Townsend, 1979). Poverty is felt most in the education sector as children cannot attend schools when they are hungry, and therefore, one of the policies put forward by the government under the welfare of education and health include the feeding program. This program focuses on free school meals to provide for the hungry children coming from low-income families. Cameron also mentions freedom and democracy and individualism as other evils in the society.

Crime leads to immigration. For example, countries that are most affected by crime are Iraq, Somalia, and Sudan among others. It has led to untold suffering and war. Civil unrest leads to immigration. In the refugee camps, children are the most affected as they lack food and other necessities (Baldock, 2007). The danger of disease is also prevalent in most asylums and refugee camps. One country cannot handle this problem alone, and international organizations such as NATO and EU should come together and develop a policy aimed at protecting children against such occurrences. However, due to individualism and greed, countries want to lead and live by their own (Watts et al., 2008). Greed, individualism, and inequality can be seen as another evil in the contemporary society (Shildrick, 2011). Due to capitalism, everybody is fighting for themselves hence losing the spirit of togetherness or communism where people are supposed to help each other out (McKee & Stuckler, 2011). Leaders have been caught with national scandals of embezzlement of funds and other finance-related malpractices such as inequality, corruption, and nepotism; this is brought by greed and individualism (Edyvane, 2013). If Beveridge were to write again today, he would write about media bias, poverty, education (ignorance), individualism, and immigration and crime as the five evils in the contemporary society.

In conclusion, since social policies play an essential role in the society, they need to be changed and updated with time to suit the current problems affecting the society. Beveridge came up with the five evils of the society that were supposed to help shape the government in its welfare contributions. These five evils were; want ignorance, disease, squalor, and idleness. Each one of them played an important role in poverty and by controlling them, the government would be able to sort out the welfare problems affecting the population and kick out poverty. Since then, things have changed and the issues affecting the society today are about media bias, poverty, education (ignorance), individualism, and immigration and crime. Media is the evilest as it is the root of all other problems. The government is tasked with coming up with policies that help in the general well-being of the society.

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