Skip to content

Beveridge’s Five Giants

Nicholas Timmins book cover 2

Wednesday 1 November 2017, 6.00PM

Speaker: Nicholas Timmins, King's Fund and Institute of Government

Five Giants: Then and now

75 years after publication of the Beveridge Report - can the welfare state survive?

Seventy-five years ago, on December 1, the Beveridge report – which is widely seen as the founding document of the modern welfare state – was published.

In Bunyanesque and Churchillian prose, used on a scale that no government publication before or since has managed to mirror, it called for an attack on “Five Giant Evils” that stood on the road to post-war reconstruction.

The five were Want – by which Beveridge essentially meant poverty in modern parlance –Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness – that last of which “destroys wealth and corrupts men.” A revolutionary moment in the world’s history, Beveridge declared in this 1942 document, was “a time for revolutions not patching” as he called for the National Health Service, the family allowances, and a government policy of full employment that were needed to make his modernised system of social security work.

The introductory lecture to this series will look at the immediate origins of his report and what gave it such impact, while briefly playing the party game - asking, as a starter for the sessions that follow, what he might have made of the welfare state today.

Speaker biography: Nicholas Timmins is a senior fellow at the Institute for Government and the King’s Fund. Between 1996 and 2012 he was public policy editor and commentator at The Financial Times, the end of forty years in journalism that took him from the science journal Nature to the Press Association, The Times, and on to being a founder member of The Independent. He was variously a science and medicine, health and social services, employment and political correspondent before joining the FT.

For this purpose he is more relevantly the author of The Five Giants: A Biography of the Welfare State, a narrative history of the welfare state since Beveridge, with its third, final and fully updated edition being published by William Collins on November 2.

Nick is also a visiting professor in social policy at the London School of Economics and in public management at King's College, London. He was president of the Social Policy Association between 2008 and 2011, is an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, and has an honorary D.Litt from the University of Hull. 

Other events in this series include:

Location: Ron Cooke Hub auditorium, Campus East

Admission: is by free ticket only. Please book below.

Powered by Eventbrite