Liberal Reforms

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History GCSE
British depth study 1906 ­ 1918
Liberal Reforms
1906 ­ Free School Meals Act.
o By 1914, 150,000 children were having at least one meal a day
o Local councils provided them but not all of them did it as it was optional, only half of Britain's local
authorities set up a meals service
1907 ­ School Medical Inspections
o Children got free, compulsory medical checks
o Medical treatment was not free for another 5 years
1908 ­ Children and Young Persons Act
o Children became protected ­ parents who abused them could be prosecuted
o Children convicted of crimes were sent to borstals ­ some borstals were not better than prison
o Parents could not insure their children so they didn't kill them
1908 ­ Old Age Pensions Act
o All people aged over 70 received 5sper week, or 7s 6d per couple and was paid for by the government
o The pension was not generous
o It could be refused to people who had failed to work to the best of their abilities in their working life
o It was only available to citizens who'd lived in England for the past 20 years
o Anyone who had an income of over £31 per years did not qualify for state pension
o In the first years 650,000 collected their pensions, people claiming outdoor relief (hand outs of food,
clothing or small amounts of money) fell to 80,000
1909 ­ Labour Exchanges
o Provided labour exchanges, where the unemployed could look for a job
o The jobs were generally casual and short-term
o The government did nothing to make the jobs more secure
o By 1913, the exchanges were finding 3,000 jobs per day for workers
1911 ­ National Insurance Act
o Prevented poverty from illness by providing 7s 6d per week for 15 weeks of sick pay
o Families could not survive on this amount of money
o Lower paid worker did not like contributing 4d towards this every week
1912 ­ School Clinics
o Medical treatment for children became free
Why did the Liberals introduce the welfare reforms?
Self Help v. Welfare State
The welfare state is when the state pays for health care, education, social services, unemployment and other
services. Before the early 1900s most politicians would have said that the government should leave such matters to
individuals or charities and that individuals should look after their own welfare by saving money. This is known as
`self help.' They thought it was the their own fault that they were poor
The Social Reformers
Leading Liberals were influenced by the work of researchers and social reformers such as Seebohm Rowntree, a
committed social reformer. In 1901 Rowntree published a book about poverty which was based on two years'
research in his home town of York. It contained a huge amount of statistical and other kinds of evidence of wages,
hours of work, diet, health and housing. His conclusions were:
Poverty was generally cause by old age, illness or other factors. It was not generally the result of being lazy
or careless with money
The poor often suffered from the ups and downs of Britain's trade cycle. Ordinary people could not be
blamed for these changing circumstances putting them out of work and into poverty
In York, 27% of the population lived in poverty
The state should introduce measures to protect and safeguard the very young, old, the ill and the

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History GCSE
Because of his wealth and connections, Rowntree has influence on the government. He had been a supporter of the
Liberal party all his life and was a friend of the leading Liberal, David Lloyd George. Rowntree was asked by the
Liberal government to carry out a study into rural poverty in 1913. He was an important influence on the Old Age
Pensions Act and the National Insurance Act.
Political Rivalry
The Liberals' main rivals were the Conservative Party.…read more

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History GCSE
Labour criticised how the workers had to fund their own benefits, they said it should come from the wealthy to
help the poor…read more


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