About the Trust

About the Trust:

The Webb Memorial Trust pursues the intellectual legacy of Beatrice Webb (1858-1943), who, together with her husband Sidney (1859-1947), embarked on a vigorous programme of social reform which influenced the development of the post-war welfare state. The Trust was formed in 1947 with the purpose of ‘the advancement of education and learning with respect to the history and problems of government and social policy’.

Beatrice Webb argued that poverty was not a result of moral failure but of structural causes that had solutions. Her 1909 publication of the Minority Report of the Royal Commission on the Poor Law sounded a radical call not just for the abolition of the workhouse but for its replacement with universal public services which reflect our common citizenship. Beatrice was among the founders of the London School of Economics and Political Science, a key member of the Fabian Society and founder of the New Statesman.

Since 1987 the Webb Memorial Trust has funded a wide range of projects in the UK, helping to create a better informed debate about poverty, its causes and solutions.


In 1947 the Trust purchased a large country house close to Holmbury St. Mary, near Dorking, in Surrey as a conference centre for the ‘advancement of education and learning with respect to the history and problems of government and social policy.’ It was renamed Beatrice Webb House.

From the 1950s through to the 1970s the house became an important base for education and discussion for bodies such as the Fabian Society and many trade unions.

However, with the continuing decline in demand for such a facility in the late seventies and eighties, changing requirements by users and the deteriorating fabric of the building, the Trust decided in 1986 to sell the house. The money realised from the sale provides the funds for the Trust’s activities today.

** Please note, as of 2017 the Webb Memorial Trust is no long accepting funding applications **

Screenshot 2017-02-23 at 15.19.22 Barry Knight, Director

Barry Knight is a social scientist and statistician. In addition to overseeing the work of the Webb Memorial Trust, he works with the Global Fund for Community Foundations, the Arab Reform Initiative and the European Foundation Centre. He is co-chair of the Working Group on Philanthropy for Social Justice and Peace and has previously advised the Ford Foundation and the CS Mott Foundation. Barry is the author or editor of 14 books on poverty, civil society, community development and democracy and his forthcoming book, Rethinking Poverty. What Makes a Good Society? will be published in September 2017 by Policy Press.  @barryjameknight


Screenshot 2017-02-23 at 15.18.00Georgia Smith, Communications Officer

Georgia Smith joined the Webb Memorial Trust in January 2016 after working for The Speaker of the House of Commons for several years. Previously she has worked in the Provincial Parliament of Ontario in Toronto and in the Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland. Georgia runs the Webb Memorial Trust’s communications activities and provides the secretariat to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Poverty. She is studying part-time for an MSc in International Public Policy at UCL.  @georgiasmith101



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