The Liberal Welfare Reforms.

Note by , created about 6 years ago

GCSE History 2 Note on The Liberal Welfare Reforms., created by 003427 on 06/07/2013.

Created by 003427 about 6 years ago
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Page 1

What were working and living conditions like for the poor in the 1890's?

Impact of the Industrial Revolution- Countryside was replaced by factories and towns. The towns' conditions were terrible. Housing was cramped, poor and dirty, without proper sanitation. Epidemic disease, such as Cholera, was a huge problem and spread easily.

Working Conditions- These were dangerous and unhealthy. The governments were forced to tackle these problems with Factory Acts, Education Acts and Public Health Acts.

Government- After 1900, it was clear that the government were the only ones who had the power to tackle these problems. They had to change there laid back approach to public issues (Laissez Faire). After 1906, they accepted that they needed to keep the public from harm and they needed to guarantee and good, basic, minimum standard of living, even if the only way to do this is by taking money from the rich and giving it to the poor.

What help was given to people?

The Sick- The sick could not work. Even in the 19th Century, the link between illness and poverty was recognised and outdoor relief was available to those in need. Poor Law hospitals were built towards the end of the century, providing a basis for an NHS,

The Unemployed- Attitudes towards the unemployed softened towards the end of the 19th century. From 1886, local authorities were allowed to provide work and the Unemployed Workmen Act of 1905 allowed them to raise money, specifically for this purpose.

Outdoor reilef- Handouts of money or food.

The Old- Entitled to outdoor relief. Many were admitted to work houses to be looked after. Old age was the most important cause of poverty. 30-40% of old people received outdoor relief. Their treatment in the work house improved as the century progressed. Couples weren't split up, eventually, and they were allowed visitors and allowances for luxuries such as tea and tobacco.

The Young- Children were admitted to the work house with their parents. Attitudes towards them were not as harsh as they weren't to blame for being poor. Many Poor Law Unions tried to get children out of the workhouses by sending them to live with local families. Schooling  was provided.

The Studies of Charles Booth and Seebohm Rowntree.

Booth studied the lives of the poor in London and Rowntree studied the lives of the poor in York. 

Booth-These studies happened between 1886 and 1903. Booths studies were published as Life and Labour of the People in London. He used Census returns, School reports and house to house enquiries, and interviewed Doctors and Clergy who worked in the area. He defined Poverty as having an income of less than £1 a week for a family of five and discovered that 30% of the population in London lived below this poverty line. He discovered the main causes of poverty were sickness, old age, unemployment, large families and low wages. He discovered that not all people were to blame for being poor and many people were forced into poverty by factors beyond their control.

Rowntree- Rowntrees findings were published as Poverty: a Study of Town Life in 1901. His findings helped people to realise that this problem didn't just effect London, but a small place like York as well. His findings were very similar to those of Booth. He discovered that 30% of the population lived below the poverty line. He also discovered that the existing Poor Law would not be adequate for dealing with the problem of poverty. There was no longer any excuse for no cause of action. In 1899, the Boer War broke out. 40% of all recruits were found to be unfit for military service because of the effects of poverty. The Royal Commission were then appointed to review the Poor Law in 1905.  

The Reforms.

Children- The School Meals Act of 1906 entitled children to free school meals. By 1914, 150,000 free school meals were being served a day. Free School Medical inspections were introduced in 1907 however, it took till 1912 to make the treatment free.The Children's Charter of 1908  dealt with a range of issues that children faced. Child care committees were set up to support suffering children. Young offenders were sent to special courts and the probation system was set up (allowed to go if they behave well). Houses of reform were set up for them as well. It was made illegal to sell tobacco, alcohol and fireworks to kids under the age of 16. Working hours for them were strictly limited and it was made illegal for children to do certain types of work.

Pensions- The Old Age Pension Act was passed in 1908. This gave the poorest people over the age of 70, a pension of 5 shillings a week. Smaller pensions were payed to those who weren't in such bad need of it. Pensions were collected at the Post Office. Many government opposers were against the pension as people made no contribution to it before hand. 

Labour Exchanges- William Beveridge, a British economist and social reformer, saw the problem of unemployment was mostly being caused by inefficiency. To many men were employed in casual work and were frequently laid off. The Labour Exchanges Act of 1909 was intended to help people to find permanent work. The unemployed would register with the Labour exchanges, then local employers who had vacancies would notify the labour exchanges. Unemployed people would then be put in touch with the employers. By 1914, 400 labour exchanges had been set up and helped to employ a million vacancies a year. The Trade Boards Act of 1909 tried to tackle low pay. This helped to establish a minimum wage.

National Insurance-Many people payed into private insurance schemes in fear that they could lose their jobs and plummet into poverty. The National Insurance Act of 1911 dealt with unemployment and health.

Health Insurance- This scheme was compulsory and covered all workers earning less than £160 a year. This was a good wage so the insurance covered most of the population. People had to pay 4d a week into an insurance fund (17shillings a year), emplyers payed 3d and the government payed 2d for each worker. 

Unemployment Insurance- This was the work of Winston Churchill. This insurance was only available in Britain. It protected men in industries affected by seasonal unemployment i.e. building, ship building and engineering. 2.5d from the worker and 2.5d from the employer was payed a week.  Unemployed workers in the scheme could then claim 7shillings a week for up to 15 weeks.

National Efficiency- This was the efficiency of the work force i.e. the military. When the Boer war broke out in 1899, it was discovered that 40%  of the army was under national efficiency was therefore, couldn't fight. 

The Boer War- 1899-1902. For every three recruits, one was unfit to fight. 

Socialism- Due to the threat of the Labour Party being created, the Liberals needed to keep support, they did these in order to not lose support. They worked with the Labour party for help.

Living Conditions


Booth and Rowntree


Other Key Points