By Justin Smith
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Extra info for An Introduction to the Voluntary Sector
The last decades of the nineteenth century saw a public debate around the issue of a statutory national pensions scheme. The societies remained resolutely opposed to such initiatives, and to begin with were not alone. In 1891 the president of the TUC spoke out in favour of ‘selfhelp’. But the spirit of the time was moving against the societies and in favour of a statutory response. The opposition of the societies was both principled and self-interested: it was felt that working people would be unable to afford two insurance payments, one to the state and one to the societies.
If anything, the problem was the opposite. Labour had no developed plan of its own for social policy, having participated in devising the measures put forward by the coalition government and adopted in addition the proposals in the Beveridge report, but with strong private reservations on the part of several senior figures. The manifesto for the 1945 Election (Let Us Face the Future) was cautious in tone and contained little evidence of a comprehensive strategy for welfare. As a result, as Jose Harris rather brutally puts it, ‘the Welfare State came into being with no clearly defined conception of welfare and no coherent theory of the State’ (in Smith 1986:256).
30). What functions would this newly professionalised—and democratically accountable—voluntarism best serve? Cole and his collaborators had several proposals: child care, family welfare, youth work, adult education, advice and information. Casework could form the link between these activities and casework skills would provide the basis of collaboration between statutory and voluntary agencies. As Una Cormack argued, casework ‘is a bridge between the old individualism of the past and the new community of the future and has infinite possibilities for service after the war with either voluntary societies or statutory authorities’ (Bourdillon 1945:111).
An Introduction to the Voluntary Sector by Justin Smith