The welfare system has obvious relevance to the subject of mental health.
However, an organisation called Participle, founded by Hilary Cottam (author of Radical Help), have persuasively argued that human relationships have been designed out of our current welfare system. They make the case for relational welfare, saying that whilst the current system has been remarkably successful in many ways (eradicating mass diseases, longer life-spans etc.), it has now become all about institutions with finite resources anonymously managing access to those resources … and thus is mostly concerned with limiting access to those resources, either stopping people from accessing the service or else managing the queue.
Participle has played a key role in demonstrating how new approaches rooted in developing people’s capabilities and relationships can transform social outcomes at lower cost. Their mission is explained in a major revisioning – called Beveridge 4.0 – of the 1942 Beveridge Report which underpinned the creation of a welfare state in the UK, including the establishment of the NHS.
“Towards the end of his life, Sir William Beveridge decided there were major errors in his work: he had made a mistake in the way he had designed our welfare state.
Beveridge was a 20th century giant. The vision and strategy he set out in his first 1942 report were supported by political thinkers on the left and right, and by the general public who wanted a new and fairer Britain. Before Beveridge, Britain can be seen as a place of gross inequality, with health care that few could afford or find, schools which looked like those portrayed in a Dickens’ novel, and a society desperately hanging on to its colonial legacy. The post-war welfare state swept all this away in one of the most dramatic social transformations Britain has ever seen.
Today in 2008, we need a new vision and strategy – one that is capable of bringing about a similarly far reaching transformation for our new century. We argue that the mistake Beveridge thought he had made is fundamental to this transformation. Based on this we set out here a new vision – one which has developed from the practical work that Participle has undertaken. It is a work in progress and we would like your views and thoughts. First however, let’s start with Beveridge’s own original idea.
The Original Idea
The 1942 report was guided by three principles; a determination to be radical; an attack on the five giants of ‘want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness’; and a commitment to co-operation between the state and the individual. Public services, such as education and health, would be universally available, for the most part free and funded by general taxation.
Other services, such as social care, would be rationed according to need. Access to these services would be determined by strict eligibility criteria and assessments by professionals. Financial benefits such as pensions would be paid according to contributions made by individuals through the National Insurance scheme. Responsibility for providing services was carefully shared between central and local government …”
Read more here.