Over the last 200 years Britain has witnessed profound changes in the nature and extent of state welfare. Drawing on the latest historical and social science research The Origins of the British Welfare State looks at the main developments in the history of social welfare provision in this period. It looks at the nature of problems facing British society in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries and shows how these provided the foundation for the growth of both statutory and welfare provision in the areas of health, housing, education and the relief of poverty. It also examines the role played by the Liberal government of 1906-14 in reshaping the boundaries of public welfare provision and shows how the momentous changes associated with the First and Second World Wars paved the way for the creation of the 'classic' welfare state after 1945. This comprehensive and broad-ranging yet accessible account encourages the reader to question the 'inevitability' of present-day arrangements and provides an important framework for comparative analysis. It will be essential reading for all concerned with social policy, British social history and public policy.
BERNARD HARRIS is Professor of Social Policy at the University of Strathclyde, UK.