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Last updated:28 May 2015

'Social security: the story of social progress and the Beveridge Plan', 1943 pamphlet

Marking the publication of the Beveridge Report in December 1942

This month is the 70th anniversary of the publication of the Beveridge report. As well as laying the foundations for the post-war establishment of the welfare state, the document provided a much needed morale boost during the dark days of war. It was a best seller, with over 600,000 official copies sold. In addition newspapers, political parties and other organisations published a variety of pamphlets which all helped explain to the people just what the report would mean for them.

As part of its morale-boosting campaign, the Ministry of Information supported the publication of this month's object in 1943. The text was written by a civil servant, Sir Ronald Davidson, but more interesting are the diagrams. These are produced in ISOTYPE, a design system developed in Vienna in the 1920s, by Otto Neurath who aimed to ‘represent social facts pictorially'. ISOTYPE is an acronym for International System Of TYpographic Picture Education.

After escaping Nazi occupation with his wife Marie, first from Austria and then the Netherlands, Neurath ending up in Oxford at the start of the war and opened the ISOTYPE Institute. It was this body that produced the illustrations for this pamphlet.

beveridge pamphlet

As you can see this page breaks down the financial requirements of various members and groups in society, into food, rent, heating etc. Each circle represents 1 shilling per week at 1938 prices, while what the money is spent on is shown through words and images.

The page is typical of the ISOTYPE technique which rejected using larger symbols to represent larger amounts, instead repeating the same symbol the required number of times. In doing so it attempts to render the complex simple.

December 2012

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Resources on William Beveridge and the Beveridge plan in the library collection

Ronald Davison, Social security: the story of British social progress and the Beveridge plan (1943) - Shelfmark: AG Social Conditions Box 3

William Beveridge, Social insurance and allied services (1942) - Shelfmark: A37 (Command paper ; 6404)

Labour Research Department, Beveridge Report: what it means - a brief and clear analysis showing how it affects various sections, what changes it proposes, its financial basis, etc., etc. (ca. 1942) - Shelfmark: AG Labour Research Department

Labour Research Department, Beveridge Report: industrial assurance - the case for turning industrial assurance, including the approved society system, into a public service (ca. 1943)  Shelfmark: AG Labour Research Department

Labour Research Department, Social insurance: the government plan explained compared; with "Beveridge" and with present practices; with a note on the price level and on the question "can we afford it?" (1944) - Shelfmark: AG Labour Research Department

Communist Party of Great Britain, The Beveridge Report (1942) - Shelfmark: AG  Communist Party of Great Britain Box 12 (Notes for speakers)  

Communist Party of Great Britain, Memorandum on the Beveridge report: and what must be done (ca. 1943) - Shelfmark: AG Communist Party of Great Britain Box 12

Socialist Party of Great Britain, Beveridge re-organises poverty (ca. 1943) - Shelfmark: AG Socialist Party of Great Britain Box 1

HW Singer, Can we afford Beveridge? (1943) - Shelfmark: AG Fabian Research

J Bailey, How the Beveridge plan will help women (ca. 1942) - Shelfmark: AG Co-operative Party Box 1

Frank Spires, The Beveridge plan and its industrial assurance proposals (ca. 1943) - Shelfmark: AG Co-operative Movement Box 1

GDH Cole, Beveridge explained: what the Beveridge report on social security means (1942) - Shelfmark: AG Social Conditions Box 3

Janet Beveridge, Beveridge and his plan (1954) - Shelfmark: B04

Jose Harris, William Beveridge: a biography 2nd ed. (1997) - Shelfmark: M45