The 5 evils preventing prosperity


In 1942, the Beveridge Committee identified five major problems (‘The 5 Evils’) that prevented people from bettering themselves in the 20th Century and would hinder Britain’s post war recovery:


  1. • Want (caused by poverty)
  2. • Ignorance (caused by a lack of education)
  3. • Squalor (caused by poor housing)
  4. • Idleness (caused by a lack of jobs, or the ability to gain employment)
  5. • Disease (caused by inadequate health care provision)


As the Director of the Institute (IGP) for Global Prosperity, I lead a team of academics who are reimagining prosperity in the 21st Century and designing approaches to livelihood security that evolve from – and involve – the communities and individuals whose prosperity and welfare they aim to improve.


Our recent report, ‘Rebuilding Prosperity’ challenges the decades-old social, economic and political orthodoxies on growth and prosperity that have repeatedly failed those in greatest need.


Focusing on macro-economic approaches on what matters to people rather than on Whitehall-set targets for housing building or job creation is what matters. Replacing unwieldy measures of growth and prosperity – like GDP – with local prosperity indexes defined and led by local people, are essential first steps.


But it will also require us to redefine social insurance and universal basic service provision to reflect the lived experience of 21st century citizens.


Just as in 1942, a successful post COVID recovery will require us to identify ‘The 5 Evils’ that prevent people prospering in the 21st Century.


The IGP defines those ‘5 Evils’ as:


  1. • Shelter – quality, affordable housing
  2. • Food – provision of adequate, nutritious food for all
  3. • Information – access to legal advice and the understanding and opportunity to participate in civic society
  4. • Connectivity – providing low or no cost, digital access and transport
  5. • Health – ending persistent and widening health inequality


Defeating these ‘5 Evils’ requires not just radical, brave economic and social policy on a scale not seen since the Beveridge Report, but an actual redefinition of prosperity and policy-making. And I invite everyone to join in this conversation so that together we can Rebuild Prosperity.

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