Globalization and Welfare series
Edited by Klaus Armingeon and Michelle Beyeler
Chapter 15: Mutual admiration? OECD advise to the UK
15. Mutual admiration? OECD advice to the UK Nick Manning INSTITUTIONAL AND POLITICAL CONTEXT The British welfare state took shape in two bursts of legislation, initially under the liberal government of 1906–11, and then under the post-war labour government between 1946 and 1948. Often characterised as exhibiting the ‘Beveridge model’, after William Beveridge’s famous and at the time bestselling, 1942 report on Social Insurance and Allied Services, there were in fact rather mixed models buried within the overall system. The National Health Service (NHS) was central government provided, free at the point of consumption, of a classical ‘command and control’ type. Income security however was through compulsory national insurance – a mixture of graded contributions and relatively meagre flat rate benefits; while education was explicitly elitist, in which working-class children were channelled into inferior schools, and universities were reserved for a privileged elite. Insurance in the continental style was never a part of the system, which contained a mixture of socialist and elitist elements. In Esping-Andersen’s (1990) terms the British case was mixed: education was conservative; health care was social democratic; and income security, while universal in coverage, was paid at very low rates – a kind of mean-spirited social democracy. Since the 1950s, this mixed system has evolved, but yet again not in a uniform direction. Up until the 1973 oil crisis, state social expenditure grew slowly, and social democratic elements evolved further, particularly the reorganisation of schools into a less elitist system. However, state expenditure was never generous, and...
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