The Success of the Welfare State The term “welfare state” refers to the provisions made by a state intended to protect its citizens from social problems – principally ill health, unemployment, poor housing and lack of access to education. This essay will study the British experience of the welfare state and its initial aims and consider whether its modern form has succeeded in fulfilling them. Welfare provision is characterised, in Fulcher and Scott’s view (1999/2003), by a varying amount of compromise between two polarised viewpoints: the market model, where citizens purchase healthcare, education and the like privately, against the welfare-state model, where the state fulfils
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The 1834 Act emphasised two principles, that of less eligibility – attempting to reduce the number of people who qualified for relief; and the workhouse test – the welfare that was provided would be done within workhouses at a level below the living standards of the lowest paid independent worker.
Therefore only those who were truly in need would rely on it (Fulcher and Scott, 1999/2003; Timmins, 1995; Taylor 1995/2005). In practice the Act did little more than formalise measures already widely in place across the country, but its importance lies in its introduction of the concept of a national, unified response to social problems. In 1870 the Education Act created compulsory free education for all children up to the age of twelve. In the second half of the century philanthropists and social observers such as Booth and Rowntree published detailed accounts of the reality of poverty under which much of the country’s population lived. Their work “showed that poverty… and other social problems were not due simply to personal inadequacies but were created by circumstances beyond individual control” (Taylor et al, 1995/2005: 155).
1911 saw the National