The Rise and Fall of the Welfare State

Professor Pat Thane came down from London to deliver an excellent lecture on the rise and fall of the Welfare State which highlighted the poverty investigated by Booth and Rowntree at the beginning of the twentieth century and concluded with some startling figures on the rise of poverty from the secure period of 1945- 1970’s to its present very high point.  Mastering an array of statistics Professor Thane showed us how child poverty had returned in most of the audience’s life times and many of our preconceptions about life in the 1970’s were challenged.  Inevitably it led to some lively questions at the end of her talk and some real debate. It was a thought-provoking contrast to last month equally impressive lecture on Mrs Thatcher by Dominic Sandbrook as this lecture showed how the Thatcher years began the dismantling of the Welfare State.  It also showed how relevant History can be to understanding the society we now live in, including the rise in homelessness and foodbanks. To quote one of our members Ann Carpenter “I have thoroughly enjoyed the program thus far (particular as I have been able to share social politics and history with my daughter Nat) I’ve been inspired to do further reading after the last two fascinating talks. Very much enjoyed listening to Pat Thane tonight.”

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