Beveridge didn’t design social security to accommodate extended mass unemployment. That is why returning to his founding principles as though they are totemic is daft.
We now have deliberately designed structural mass unemployment for extended periods designed specifically to create a disadvantaged, available labour pool to enable employers to pay lower wages; to keep workers insecure so that employers can keep costs down and make higher profits to satisfy shareholders.
It is this culture that must be brought to an end.
If a living wage were implemented everywhere and if the government stopped subsidising poverty wages, but instead insisted employers pay adequate wages, then work would pay. If reduced headcounts were not seen as ‘efficiency’ savings, but instead for what they are – a way of achieving downward pressure on wages at the expense of corporate effectiveness, we would not support mass redundancies in pursuit of the so-called requirements of ‘austerity’.
Beveridge’s system was designed at a time when there was a genuine ‘social contract’; a time when there was some loyalty between employers and employees. When people were understood as people and not just as expendable ‘human resources’.
Change that culture and benefit dependency will end.
While you’re about it, recognise that those not in paid work are often making a massive contribution to society and the economy too.