6.1 Why Don’t We Pay to See a Doctor?

From 1906, the British government introduced some help for the most vulnerable people in society, but it was only after the Second World War that the welfare state really took shape. The government asked Sir William Beveridge to investigate ways the country might help the most vulnerable people. These films show the start of the welfare state in Britain.

1 MIN 53 SECS, SOUND, B/W, 1944

In this clip, Minister for Health Henry Willink talks about the government’s National Health Service, outlining how the scheme will work. The aim was to provide healthcare for everyone and make all medical treatment – including that offered by doctors, hospitals, ambulance, dentists and opticians – free to all.


4 MINS 7 secs, SOUND, B/W, 1945

As the Second World War ended, an election was held to decide who would run the country next. The Labour Party promised to follow Beveridge’s advice, but the Conservative Party, led by Winston Churchill refused to make such a promise. The Labour Party won the election easily on 26 July 1945 and the new government, led by Clement Atlee, kept its promise – putting many of Beveridge’s ideas into practice.


1 MIN 6 SECS, SOUND, B/W, 1944-45

A public film released by the Ministry of Information, explaining the importance of the National Insurance Scheme.


0 MINS 58 SECS, SOUND, B/W, 1946

A public film released by the Ministry of Information explaining the increases in old age pension insurance.


1 MIN 48 SECS, SOUND, B/W, 1946

After the Second World War, a number of new towns were built, providing people with both housing and jobs. Stevenage, in Hertfordshire, was the first to be built, with over 20 more created within ten years. In this film, the Minister of Town and Country Planning visits the new town and addresses complaints of displaced residents whose homes are to be demolished.

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