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Abolishing Want in a Social State

Produced in association with Child Poverty Action Group. This paper was commissioned as part of the Social State series to address the Giant Evil of ‘want’ and propose new policy priorities for tackling poverty in 2015 Britain.

Download and read the full paper here.

Beveridge's 1942 Report was first and foremost a plan for the abolition of want. Yet want, in the form of poverty, has proved far from easy to abolish. This paper attempts to understand why, 70 years after the Beveridge Report, poverty continues to be so prevalent and will attempt to suggest what a renewed attack on want might look like.

Looking both at the history of UK policy and internationally it's clear that countries that set out to reduce poverty, and are prepared to increase spending in order to do so, find that poverty does indeed reduce. This paper argues that a strategy to tackle poverty cannot focus solely on redistribution. The need to commit additional resources to tackling poverty, and the ability to do so, depend to a large extent on levels of employment across a population.

This report suggests that current research on poverty points in one direction - universal and employment based solutions.

"We know that in policy terms, the largest groups of people living in poverty are people in work and couples with children. Tackling poverty for these groups means universal policies that reduce the costs of children and policies that seek to tackle in-work poverty by both increasing employment and potentially by reducing housing costs."


Kate Bell discussed her paper along with a range of other speakers at the Achieving the Social State event on Wednesday 13 March 2013 at the London School of Economics. Find out more details of the event here and see our Storify for more information on the online debate.