Hussein Al-alak: A Welfare State is life after the #MosulOps

By the very nature of the Mosul Operations, Iraq is under going change and with it, the Iraqi people are again changing. While many now debate a post-ISIS Iraq, what is actually being faced, is a period which echoes Britain and Europe in the wake of World Wars One and Two. 

Not only does Iraq have to confront questions of security but Iraq must face the concrete realities of Army, its Veterans and each of the concerns, which have befallen its people. If wisdom existed in an era of politics, then wisdom would prefer its role in a brave new world. 

It was not until after the Second World War that the British Welfare state took its mature form. In a climate of relief after the war, a climate diffused with an idealism for a new, more just society, welfare legislation had bipartisan support. There was a clear sense of rebuilding a better Britain. 

The period before World War Two had seen long-running debates about the lack of co-ordination of hospital services.There was concern to learn from and develop the existing experience of a health insurance scheme for medical treatment for some of the population. And there were criticisms of the legacies of the Poor Law (in today’s Iraq rations or charities) - the indignities of means-tested payments for those in poverty and the fear among the old and impoverished of ending life in the workhouse. 

But the Labour government’s landslide victory in 1945 was still very much about creating a new deal for ‘the boys back from the front’, giving them a sense that their country had been worth fighting for and would support and care for them in peacetime by offering them and their families the opportunity for jobs, homes, education, health and a standard of living of which they could be proud. 

The centrepiece was a state-run system of compulsory insurance. Every worker, by contributing to a scheme of national insurance deducted through the weekly or monthly pay packet, would be helping to build up a fund that would pay out weekly benefits to those who were sick or unemployed or who suffered industrial injury. The scheme would pay pensions at the end of a working life to employees and the self-employed. 

The idea was support the worker and his family. Benefits were to be set at a level that enabled a man his wife and child to survive. There would be benefits for widows and an allowance for guardians of children without parents to care for them. A system of family allowances for the second child and subsequent children was intended to ensure that those with large families were not penalised. 

There was also to be a marriage grant, maternity grant and benefit, some specific training grants and a death grant. The key feature was that people were eligible to receive these benefits and grants because they had contributed. Rich and poor 'paid the stamp’ and could claim as of right because of this. 

Alongside these financial security provisions for all, there would be universal access to education and to health services. These would be funded from taxation and would be free at the point of use. Again everyone in work would pay, but in this case, since taxation increased with increasing income, the rich would pay more. 

The package overall gave meaning to the proud boast that the welfare state provided care for everyone - protection 'from cradle to grave’. For it all to happen, however, there had to be full employment. The government would give top priority to the rebuilding of a strong, peacetime economy and the redeployment of troops into civilian work. Only if the workers were in work would they be contributing to the scheme. 

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