The Liberal Welfare Reforms, History OCR

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The Liberal Welfare Reforms 1906 - 1914
Conditions of the Poor in the 1890s
In 1834 the Poor Law was put in place ­ it stated that each parish should look after its own poor ­ if you are
unable to work then you can get some money to live ­ eventually this led to workhouses
Living Conditions
Overcrowded housing
Unhygienic and vermin invested homes and streets- disease spread easily
No sewage system
Working Conditions
Long hours and little pay ­ unfair working hours and wages ­ sweatshops etc.
Unreliable work ­ no benefits/ sick pay ­ unemployment high
Dangerous working conditions ­ vermin invested and dangerous
People worked, on average, 300 days a year
Social Conditions
Streets were dangerous as crime rates were high due to poverty
Poor conditions ­ unhygienic and vermin invested - Dark and smelly streets
Starvation was normality ­ 50% of recruits for Boer war were malnourished
Workhouses and few charities were the relief for poverty ­ they were brutal ­ people felt shame
No pensions - no welfare state
Poor could not afford medical treatment ­ life expectancy low
Opinions of poor in 1890s
The Rich
Poor responsible for their own poverty ­ drunken and irresponsible with money (thought the poor should
save for hard times)
Most poor were criminals
Enough was being done to help them
1905 Royal Commission
o Majority Report - backed up above opinions
o Minority Report ­ blamed illness/old age/job shortage and thought more should be done to help
poor
Social Reformers
Successful people who thought that reports were exaggerated
They found that reports were understated
Their reports had impacts on changing attitudes
Charles Booth
Published `Life and Labour of the people' in 1899 - it stated that 30% in severe poverty ­ only 1% were
criminal/ idle/ drunk
Successful shipping owner and businessman
Showed that causes of poverty were low wages, sweatshops, casual work and old age/illness/death of main
breadwinner

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Seebohm Rowntree
Published `Poverty: A study of Town Life' in 1901 ­ said 28% of people in York were poor
Head of confectionary company
Published statistics on wages, hours, diet, health and housing
Conclusion was that poverty was caused by low wages and old age
State should introduce measures to protect poor
John Galt
A missionary who took photos of poor
Showed working class were hard workers but trapped in poverty cycle
Opinions changing
Popular writers (Dickens, Wells, Shaw etc.…read more

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Industrial Incapability
Germany had overtaken Britain as leading industrial power ­ it had state welfare ­ healthier and better
educated workforce
Britain needed to compete with them
Liberal Rivalry with Labour
Liberals need to compete with growing Labour party (1906)
They had to reform because working men had vote ­ Labour would take votes
In 1910 the Liberals and Labour had to form a coalition as Liberals did not win majority
Leading Politicians
Leading Liberals (Lloyd George and Churchill ­ both came around in 1908)…read more

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National Insurance Act (DLG)
o Workers and employers both had to contribute and then Govt.…read more

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Attitudes to the Welfare Reforms
Conservatives didn't like the reforms because they feared tax rises and thought the Govt.…read more

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