Beveridge: National Assistance

369.  Assistance as part of Security: Assistance will be available to meet all needs which are not covered by insurance.    It must meet those needs adequately up to subsistence level, but it must be felt to be something less desirable than insurance benefit;   otherwise the insured persons get nothing for their contributions.   Assistance therefore will be given always subject to proof of needs and examination of means;   it will be subject also to any conditions as to behaviour which may seem likely to hasten restoration of earning capacity.   The cost of assistance will be met directly by the National Exchequer.    But though distinct from social insurance national assistance will be combined with it in administration, as a minor but integral part of the work of the Ministry of Social Security.

370. Transitional Scope of Assistance:   In the transitional period for pensions before contributory pensions reach subsistence level, assistance pensions will be required in a considerable number of cases and will form a large part of the total work of assistance.

371. Limited Permanent Scope  of Assistance:   The  proposals  in this Report (extending State insurance to new Classes, raising rates of benefit and prolonging the period of benefit) will make the permanent scope of assistance much less than that of public assistance and of the Assistance Board at present. Nevertheless there will remain a real, if limited, continuing scope for assistance covering the following main classes.

(a) Persons failing to fulfil contribution conditions either because they have less than the qualifying minimum (para. 366) or because they never become fit for work, or because they are not in full benefit for unemployment, disability or pensions, or because being in Class II or Class IV they claim and obtain exemption on the ground of deficient total income (para. 363).

(b) Persons failing to fulfil conditions for benefit. The most important of these are likely to be (i) men disqualified for unconditional un­employment benefit through refusal of suitable employment, through leaving work without just cause, through dismissal for misconduct, and (ii) those who are disqualified for conditional unemployment benefit. by failure to attend a work or training centre.

(c)  Persons with abnormal needs in respect of diet, care and other matters.

(d)    Persons in need through causes not suitable for insurance, e.g., some
forms of desertion or separation.

372.    Unified Means Test:  The three differing tests of needs and means which are now applied by separate authorities for non-contributory pensions, supplementary pensions and public assistance, will be replaced by a test administered by a single authority on principles uniform in themselves, though taking account of the different problems which arise in relation to different classes of case.  Giving of assistance involves consideration on the one hand of needs and on the other hand of the applicant’s resources for meeting them. The needs of adult persons and of children should be based on estimates of what is necessary for subsistence on the principles discussed in paras. 193-232. For old persons it is reasonable to add a margin above the subsistence minimum, as is proposed in regard to contributory pensions by bringing them ultimately up to unemployment and disability benefit. Consideration of the applicant’s resources raises two questions:  of the ownership of the resources to be taken into account and of the treatment of resources of different kinds. As regards the ownership of the resources to be taken into account, there appears to be no reason for disturbing materially, if at all, the settlement reached under the Determination of Needs Act. As regards the treatment of resources of different kinds, this matter is now dealt with partly by Statute, partly by Regulations,   and   partly by administrative   discretion.    It   is suggested that, in future, it should be wholly a matter for Regulations to be made subject to the approval of both Houses of Parliament.    Regulations have the advantage over Statute both that they can be amended more easily in order to provide for changed circumstances, and that they can be more detailed than Statutes. On the other hand, they have the advantage, as compared with administrative discretion, that the making of a new Regulation calls attention of all parties concerned to any additional rights that may be granted to them.    Regulations are available to all officers, members of Appeal Tribunals and the public.   They set standards to which administration must conform and they ensure reasonable consistency of treatment between one place and another and between one time and another.    Under the Regulations it will be possible to make suitable considered allowance for capital, for earnings, for war disability pensions, for social insurance benefits and pensions, and for other income.

373. Cases of Special Difficulty: At the basis of any system of social security covering all those who comply with reasonable just conditions for insurance and assistance, there must be provision for a limited class of men or women who through weakness or badness of character fail to comply.In the last resort the man who fails to comply with the conditions for obtaining benefit or assistance and leaves his family without resources must be subject to penal treatment.

374. Some Assistance Problems :  On transfer of responsibility for assistance to a central authority it may be necessary to make some amendment of the present provisions as to (a) giving of assistance to persons on strike or locked-out; (b) giving of assistance on loan with recovery thereafter ; (c) giving of assistance in kind.