Beveridge or Brown? Contribution and Redistribution: The Real Social Security Debate, by Sheila Lawlor

Dr Sheila Lawlor, Director of Politeia, argues the case for retaining the contributory principle on which Beveridge based social security. She believes that the restoration of the principle is central to social security reform and that Treasury efforts to integrate National Insurance with taxation should be resisted. Part I of the pamphlet provides a concise and useful overview of the history of NI. Part 2 examines Government attempts to reform social security, together with her own proposals for reform. Dr Lawlor clarifies the definitions of three widely used and often misunderstood terms: contributory principle, universalism and targeting. On universalism she writes: “The case for universalism is made on the left in terms of protecting the interests of the poor and avoiding dependency and incentive traps. It is also, they contend, more efficient. Abandoning it makes for greater division and a social security system which, because it is confined to the poor, becomes a welfare state of last resort as the middle classes take their earnings and contributions to the private sector.” A good summary of the current debate, the pamphlet is available from Politeia, 22 Charing Cross Road, LONDON WC2H OHR, Tel 0171 240 5070 e-mail (price £10.00).