Books

History Revealed - - FROM THE EDITOR - By Chris Ren­wick Allen Lane, £20, 336 pages, hard­back

A look at the new re­leases

At a time when the wel­fare state in Bri­tain is a hot po­lit­i­cal topic – does it pro­vide a valu­able so­cial safety net or has it be­come sprawl­ing, bloated and un­wieldy? – it’s help­ful to have a his­tor­i­cal view of how we reached this point. Chris Ren­wick, a his­to­rian at the Univer­sity of York, here pro­vides an in­sight­ful over­view of the wel­fare state’s de­vel­op­ment, from the Vic­to­rian work­house to the im­pact of World War II and the changes of the 1970s and ’80s. It is, by ne­ces­sity, some­what in­volved in places, but of­fers an im­por­tant look at the ways in which govern­ment has at­tempted to dras­ti­cally re­mould so­ci­ety.

“The wel­fare state was never sim­ply a dull sys­tem of na­tional in­sur­ance that paid out ben­e­fits to peo­ple”

ABOVE: The Vic­to­rian work­house was an early ex­am­ple of a wel­fare state sys­tem RIGHT: Chil­dren talk to a nurse out­side a new NHS cen­tre, 1948

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