Letter: Essential reform of welfare state

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Sir: Walter Cairns (Letters, 17 May) perpetuates the myth that any reform of the welfare state is the same as its abolition. The reality is that the welfare state is in desperate need of reform if it is to continue to service the needs of the people of our country. Those who oppose that reform jeopardise its future.

Chris Smith, MP, has consistently stated that the inclusion of those who cannot support themselves in the system is a must for any reform which he proposes. Furthermore, the package of measures which he is beginning to outline are not at odds with Beveridge and would probably be viewed by the Liberal reformer as very generous. For Beveridge, like Chris Smith, felt that it was the outcome, ie the abolition of poverty, which was more important than the means of delivery.

The alarmists who predict the end of the welfare state are correct to guard against those who seek that result, but should not regard every reform as an attack on the institution they honourably defend.

IAN CORFIELD

Head of Research

Fabian Society

London, SW1

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