The Welfare State: Chipping Away At The Pillars

The national health service, state-provided housing, and free education were the three pillars of the Welfare State set up in 1948.

The NHS wasn’t a gift from the Government – it was a set up because people demanded it.

If those services had not been set up, Britain could have seen a revolution. Soldiers coming home weren’t going to put up with the same old, same old.

There was a similar anger and chance of revolution after the First World War when soldiers came back home and found nothing had changed.

Within the past thirty years, Conservative Governments have chipped away at these three pillars. With state housing, they forbad Local Authorities from building new homes, and they reduced the security that tenants had to stay in their homes.

That’s pillar number one – take away the security of a roof over your head.

And times have changed – people want to own their own homes if they can. So the three pillars are crumbling from within as people want different things.

Higher eduction is no longer free, so that pillar number two chipped away.

The NHS is a problem and an opportunity – depending on who you want to benefit.

How do you pay to renew the old hospitals and the equipment in them that has reached the end of its useful life?

How do you pay for more patients, with more older people, and more costly treatments?

Conservative Governments saw an opportunity to move the NHS, bit by bit, to a private funding system – not by having patients pay directly (like in the US) but by funding the hospital building and the equipment from private investment.

So the people pay out of their income tax, and the profits go to private investors.

Labour Governments were too afraid to say they would raise taxes to pay for new hospitals and equipment, so they used the private funding system the Conservatives set up – and then they lost the elections anyway.

So, the answer is that bit by bit, the NHS is in danger of disappearing, not to an up-front payment system like in the US, but by a back-door into the hands of private investors.

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