The Second World War helped to create a remarkable unity among the British people. Most people felt that the only way to defeat Nazi Germany was to stand firmly together. The unity was most clearly expressed in their readiness to accept the war sacrifices imposed by Winston Churchill and his coalition government. Between 1940 and 1945 the British government contained members of all three major political groupings: the Conservative Party, Labour Party and the Liberal Party.
There was a strong feeling that the British people should be rewarded for their sacrifice and resolution. To encourage the British people to continue their fight against the axis powers, the government promised reforms that would create a more equal society. The first of these was the 1944 Education Act. This measure raised the school leaving age to 15 and provided free secondary education for all children.
The British government also asked Sir William Beveridge to write a report on the best ways of helping people on low incomes. In December 1942 Beveridge published a report that proposed that all people of working age should pay a weekly contribution. In return, benefits would be paid to people who were sick, unemployed, retired or widowed. Beveridge argued that this system would provide a minimum standard of living "below which no one should be allowed to fall". These measures were eventually introduced by the Labour Government that was elected in 1945.
Sir William Beveridge, a member of the Liberal Party, was elected to the House of Commons in 1944. The following year the new Labour Government began the process of implementing Beveridge's proposals that provided the basis of the modern welfare state.