This accessible and original text combines a systematic examination of the theories of welfare with an historical account of the evolution of the welfare state and its impact in promoting social justice. It identifies the principles governing social distribution and examines the rationales for these different distributive principles. This book also links the theories of distribution to the actual development of social policy and considers their outcomes. Understanding State Welfare will be essential reading for students of social policy. It provides a clear understanding of both theories of welfare and the history of the development of the British welfare state.