Intended for healthcare professionals


Commission calls for shake up in welfare state

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: (Published 29 October 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:1105
  1. L Dillner

    A tax on child benefit for wealthier parents, a national minimum wage, and a guarantee of universal health care are part of the Commission on Social Justice's proposals for modernising Britain's welfare state. The commission, an independent body of 16 people, was set up by John Smith, the late leader of the Labour party, and spent 18 months carrying out an inquiry into social and economic reform. Its 400 page report contains a 10-15 year programme for economic renewal and social change aimed at giving people a “hand up rather than a hand out.”

    The report is the first radical rethink of the welfare state since Sir William Beveridge laid the foundations in 1942. “We are angry that one in five people are dependent on benefit,” said Sir Gordon Borrie QC, the commission's chairman. “We are dismayed that the gap between highest and lowest paid is greater than at any time since 1886.” The report states that the gap between the healthy and unhealthy has grown as a “direct result of more unemployment, more stress and greater social inequality. The gap between different social classes, different regions and different communities is not inevitable and is simply unacceptable. In a just society everyone …

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