The welfare state

Has the past decade blunted our sense of the duty of care?

Modern British history can be divided into two parts: before Covid and after. That is the central pillar of this at times arid but ultimately compelling account of British social policy since 1945. We recovered in the aftermath of the second world war. Can we do it again, post-pandemic? Peter Hennessy, a crossbench peer, starts with the observation that government has a duty of care to the people, a conviction that emerged in the aftermath of the war and underpinned the creation of the welfare state. At the centre of it all was William Beveridge – ‘dry, prickly and difficult, but a genius when it came to the social arithmetic