Austerity and Depression 1930-1951

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Politics and Budget: The Labour Party (1929-1931)

This Labour governement was faced by unavoidable economic turmoil admist the global depression. As the American stock market crashed loans were recalled, high trade tariffs imposed and tradde halted.  The party had huge pressure to to balance the budget and impose cuts, in order to acheive this a great deal of cuts had to come from social servies such as unemployment assisstance (an area that deeply divided labour MPs)

  • Snowden (Chancellor of the Exchequer) argued that 10% cut to unemployment benefirts was necessary (bringing it back to 1924 levels prior to the last labour government increase)
  • Henderson (labour cabinet member) atgued that cuts were needed but NOT from the unemployed, who had suffered enough in the economic climate.

MacDonald tried to bring consensus, he could not counter that the fact that without cutting unemployment benefit only £56m out of a needed £97 million could be raised. Casting it to a vote where 11/9 in favour of cuts but this was not a clear decision and as such Mcdonaled declared it his intention to step down claiming the party would not last whilst divided.

  • 23 August 1931, MacDonald before the King, and asked to reconsider his role as PM and and instead leader a new National Govt, with strong input from Baldwin (Tory) / Samuel (Lib).
  • Donald agreed on 24th and was accused by his party of "treachery, betrayl andplotting to retain personal power at the extent of the labour party. This ultimatel saw MacDonald expelled from the Labour Party.
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National Govt

A general election waas helped in Oct 1931 and the results were amazing vote of confidence for the National Government with 544 seats.

Whilst the new National Governemtent was led by MacDonald it was very much a coalition of Labour and Conservatives.

  • Conservatives Baldwin and Chamberlain became deputy prime minister and health secretary, repectively.
  • Labour MP Snowden remained the Exchequer.
  • Liberal Samuel was appointed home secretary.

The National Governements first steps to solve the crisis were to arrange a financial loan from banks in Paris and New York, and Snowden tried increasing taxes, reducing wages and unemployment benefits and introducing a means test.

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Snowden's Budget

Snowden's budget:10th September 1931

  • Increase in direct tax: Income tax from from 4s 6d in the pound to 5s
  • Increase in indirect tax: Beer was put up b 1d, tobacco 8d, petrol by 2d and an increase in the entertainment tax.
  • Unemployment benefit: Was reduced by 10% (saving £14 million) and only payable for 26 weeks. After this the means test would be applied
  • Salary Cuts: This effected the armed services (10%), the police (10%) and teachera (15%) and MPs (saving £56 million in all)

This budget caused mutiny amongst members of the navy. Many foreign nations saw this as a prelude to revoltion and the heavy selling of the pound began, reducing it''s worth.
Consequently, Snowden abonded the gold standard on 17th September 1931 (hope originally it was temporarily)

A general election was in Ocober 1931 and  result as an amzing vote of confidence to the National Government which won 544 seats.  It cannot be deined that the vote was prominely a victory for the Conservtives as they won 473 of the seas, whilst many labour candidates lost their seats. 

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Economic polices for Britain

What policies available for for giverments to deal with the economic problems in Britain between the wars?

The Treasury View

  • Empasised the importance of a balance budget which was seen a vital to the maintenance of confidence in trade and industry. This budget aim to keep tax relatively low level so tthat it did not place an undue burden of productive enteprises. This placed limits of the permissibe level of government expenditure.
  • Orthodox thinking ruled out the idea of government runninging a deficit to finance extensive programmes of state intervention. It was held that this would involve a risk of undermining priviate initative and weakening business confidence.
  • In condtions of depression, therefore, the natural tendancy of governments was to abstain for large scale manipulation of the level of demand in the economy. This was believed to be counter productive and likely to exacerbate the contraction of economy activivity.
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Governments and Economy

There can be two approaches the government can take towards the economy. It can pursue a fiscal or a monetary policy.

Fiscal Policy: Folllowing a fiscal policy meas a government raising revenue throught taxation and deciding on the level and pattern of government expenditure. The budget decided by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is an annual statemnet of government income and spending plans.

Monetary Policy: Following a monetary policy regulates the level of money in the economy and thus the general level of economic activity. A government could use a reduction in the bank rates to make money cheaper (i.e through lower interest rates, which lowers the cost of repaying a loan to a commercial bank) and thus encourage businesses to borrow and invest. 

Higher interest rates on the other hand make borrowing money more difficult and are a means of restraining price rises. Decsion about fixing the rate at which one currency exchanges for another (or alternatively allowing them to find their own levels) are also part of the monetary policy. These decisions will affect the the balance betwwen a country's imports and exports.

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What were the main differences between the Treasur

Blue = Treasury View/Classical                               Red = Keynesian View

  • Economy is a self regulating mechanism, no need for large scale intervention. It was subject to trade cycles, in which a period of downward movement in the level of output was followed naturally by an upturn or bust. Prices were determined mainly by the cost of labour (wages and some cases NI).
  • In a slump, wages and interest rates would fall and bringing down the level of prices until it reached a point where business men would start investing again. This would enable full economic recovery to being; prices would rise and full employment would return. Kenynes argued that a general redution in wages would have serious side effects. It would reduce wage earners ability to consume goods and services, thus keeping demand down. If interest rates continue to fall then there would be incentive for people with spare money to invest it. The results would be be prolonged depression.
  • Instead governments sould focus on ways of increasing investements and consumption. Instead spend money on Public Work Schemes, creating jobs. Employed people woulld have spare money to spend on goods and servies, which would stimulate economic activity. Treasury view argued that government spending on this scale would create a budget deficit (spending exceed income).  An unbalanced budget would hold up the revival of business confidence and spending money on public works would reduce the amount available for private investment. Keynes developed the concept of the the multipler, a stimulous to demand could occur as a multiple of the original amount invested. Putting people back to work and increasing their purchasing power, the original investment would have a knock on effect on demand, encouraging activity in other ares of the economy.
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Return to Gold standard on British Economy

  • It took the fianancial crisis of July-August 1931 to force Britian off the Gold Standard. The National Government was formed to protect the Gold Standard, however within a month of the govt formation, a mutiny at the Invergordan naval base, sparked by news of spending cuts, caused a financial panic and compelled at the abandonment of the gold standard.
  • Predictions that "Going off Gold" would produce roaring inflation, on the scale of Germany in 1923. Instead the abandement of the gold standard introduced a new flexability to monetary policy enabling a reduction of interest rates and thus helping boost business confidence. 
  • The introduction of Cheap Money with interest rates of 2% seemed to have been a permissive factor (allows economic change to occur) in the economic revoery of the 1930's. Although interest rates were irrelvant for many firms whose investement was derived from reinvested profits. It certainly encourgaed an expansion of the prvate house industry. 
  • Consequent growth of surburban britain would have had a benefitial effect on other aspects of the economy by stimulating for example the road building industry amd motor car industries.
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Did protective Tariffs help the Economy?

Introduction of a general 10% tax on imports with exceptions for empire goods, foods and raw materials. The idea being Britian would sell its manufactored goods to the empre countries, which in turn would sell their food and raw materials cheaply back to them. 

By raising tariffs against other producers, this would turn the empire into a self sufficent trading bloc. However, this dream did not corresspond with the realities of the inter war period. By then countries, such as Cananda and Austrialia had developed their own industries and their prioties were to protect them.

Moreover in the 1930s, the govt was commited to protect their own farmers, which ruled out the free admissions of large quantities of large agricultural produce from the dominions. Government subsidies enabled british farmermers to enjoy guaranteed prices for their crops. Barley, oaths and hotricultural products were protected by import duties, whilst marketing boards were set up to other sectors.

As a result, the Ottawa agreements neogtiated in summer 1932, consisted of series of bilaterial agreements deals and did not not amount to an over aching scehme of imperal protection.

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Depression on Unemployment (Part 1)

  • By 1931, the government was facing turmoil over how to sort the situation and thus led to the ultimate division and  resignation of the Labour party. Now, with the National Government in power, Snowden's budget was now passed which intially dealt with taxation, salary cuts and unemployment benefit. The standard rate of unemployment benefit was cut by 10% and at the end of 1931, stood at 23s and 3d for a married couple, and 27s and 5d for a couple with children, stood at previous 1924 level.

Ramsey MacDonald stated that  "Unemployment benefit if not a living wage; it was never meant to be".

  • By reducing the budgets, the Government could go some way in maintaing the scheme of  'self supporting' in which it had always intended to be. Yet the leap in unemployment during the 1920s and 1930s, made th the budget go into deficit. This was further supported by the increasing weekly contribtions. The 1931 October budget increased weekly payments by 3d from the worker and 2d for the employer. 
  • Through the "Anomalies Act" benefit was restricted for 26 weeks this might seem like a long time, however in some areas where industries and factories were shut down there was limited hope for employment at years at a time. Married women were also disqualified from beneffit cutting a further 134,000 people from the system.
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Depression on Unemployment part 2 (means test)

The humilation of unemployment was only made worse by the means test which was bitterly resented and introdced in November 1931. After 26 weeks out of work, this test was applied. Tjos amount of beneftil entitlement of a family would be reduced if there was any other income available.

Means Test

  • Families were victims of insistent prying of officails from the Public Assitance Committees.
  • Some employed had actually paid insurance since 1911, but this counted as nothing if you had been out of work for 26 weeks.
  • The means test was applied with no tact or feeling. Reminded people of poor law. 
  • Resulted in the break up of the traditional extended family, as those younger who were in work often moved away from the area so benefit woud not be redcued.

In Lancashire for example, 33.3 failed the test, those who had pased found themeselves at a lower rate than before. 12m was saved in total.
By January 1932, over 900,000 were undergoing the means test and hundred of thousands cut from benefits alltogether.

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Depression on Unemployment part 3 (UABs)

  • By 1933, the resoration of the 10% cut was due, but the governmet decided to reduce the debts futher, and continue for another year. However, summer reports of malnutrition and famine were increasing. 
  • In November, the government passed the Unemployment Bill Part Two, which restored the cut of 10% (though this did not come in to act for sometime resulting in more demonstations an marches). 1934 were heraled as the "apparent year of recovery." Others disagreed.
  • In April 1934 The Unemployment Bill part two was finally installed and from then on, the unemployment insurance remained in surplus. In real terms, the prive of unemployment benefits did not reach the 1391 level until the outbreak of world war two.
  • A further addition to the unemployment insurance bill part two was the Unemployment Assistance Board (UAB's). This cut the number of authorities responsible for assessing finances from 200 to 2 and national scales were introduced. This ensured no local authorities were unduly helping those in woulf offer more money than they should officailly been allowed. The government called this the relaxation of responsibillity. Indeed in Wolverhamption for example, after 1934 act the benefits dropped from an average of 38s to 25s. (Aruged by Rowntrree below subsistence level even fro a family, he proposed 43s 6d)
  • In 1935, when this was made public there was uproar and protests nationwide. In Wales for example, the majority of families transferred to UAB sysymem experienced major reductions to their employment insurance, ad strikes in coal mines broke out.
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Depression on Unemployment (Part 4) Standstill act

  • This uproar and confusion over what to do in the Commons led to a Standstill Act. Which was to last for early 2 years, whilst UABs were further discussed. 
  • Through the Standstill Act each applicant had to be assessed twice: Once by the UAB's regulations, the other by the previous PAC system. Whichever system provided the most benefit was the one the applicant would take. Whilst previously, Unemployment differed on a national scale it now differed on a local one too.
  • As Unemployment began to fall by the summer of 1936, it was announed that the Stand Still Act wold be liquidated, and then that there would be a full implementation of the Unemployment Assisstance Board with national allowences and continuation of the means test. However, it must be admitted if the public had not campaign against it, the UABs would have seen the majority of the people worse off throughout the 1930s.
  • In it's finally years the UABs spent time focusing on the spending habits of its applicants, and this made people very suspicious and anxious. By 1939, the board changed it's name to the assistance board and took charge of those affected by bombing and in 1941, the Means Test was abolished too.
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Government response to poverty and decline.

The Government to solve growing unemployment created New Industies.

New industies included: New national industries such as chemical plants & national grid, to expansion of retailing chains, to rise of new consumer products, house builiding, arms manufactoring, advertising and entertainment.

  • Teeside a welknown chemical indusry devloped in the early 20th century, was given a further boost by expansion from 1930-50s.
  • Expansion of retailing stores like that of Woolworths, Marks and Spencers, and Boots, led to a growth of Clerks. In 1911, the labour force was at 4.5% by 1931 it was at 6.7%.
  • A mass culture of entertainment in the form of the BBC and Pop Music had formed. In the 1930s particularly, big bands and swing music were popular.
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Migration and Emigration

Until 1914, Wales had attracted thousands of immigrants. But post war depression of the 1920's and depression of the 1930s reduced immigration. Within a few years pre war immigration had turned into post migration on a massive scale. Unemployment in Wales and North East of England was widespread, long lasting and severe. Wales experienced massive levels of outmigration during the 1920s and 1930s.

  • It's estimated that 440,000 people left Wales between 1921 and 1938, the majority, some 85% left the South Wales Valleys of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire. For one example, by 1933, one quarter of the population of Pembroke Dock, some 35,000 people had migration, leaving a town in which by 1937, 55% were listed as unemployed.
  • During the 1920s/30s a large number of Welsh and Northern english people left Britain all together, many of them went to USA "land of opportunity" it had attractions work. In one American town, a large number of ex tredefar folk successfully established its own Welsh community. Still more Welsh emigres sought out work in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
  • For those who did not wish to leave Britian, the only alternative was to seek work in the prosperous region of England. Thousands of Welsh workers and their families wre encouraged to leave Wales by the government.
  • Migration from Wales to England had such serious consequences that the population of Rhondda fell by 13%in the 1920s and possibly as much as 18% in the 30s, so by 1951 there were around 111,000 poeple compared to 162,000, twenty years earlierHartlepool and Gateshead, also suffered significant losses in population, 20% moved south in search of work,
  • In Wales, migration and emigration effected Welsh language and culture. Accordingtto Historian Deian Hopkins, the number ofmonoglot Welsh speakersdropped from155,000 in 1921 to 97,000 in 1931, and probably no more than 60,000 by 1939.
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The government response to Poverty and Decline (mi

Special Areas Act

  • In 1934, to deal with levels of Migration out of Britain the government passed the Speacial Areas Act which identified South Wales, Tyneside, West Cumberland & North England as areas with special employment requirements. It invested in projects like the new steelworks in Ebbw Vales.

However, this act had limitations - the level of investments were not high enough and more than often people from assigned special areas were just moved to other assigned special areas.

The Ministry of Labour

  • Set up a scheme to help unemployed workers willing to move to popular destinatins such as London, Coventary, Watford, Slough and Oxford. There, they were eliable to be employed in light engineering & car manufacturing. One of the biggest employees of Welsh workers was the Morris Motor Car Comoany at Crowley, Oxford.

But although this scheme did improve employment, and migration from out of Britian as a whole. It did not tackle the heavy migration from Wales.

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One, Two or Three Britians

South and The Midlands

The main cause of stable or rising living standards that was the fact that, for those in work, real incomes remained consistently higher than before 1914 .Wages tended to fall during the depression and did not rise significantly until economic recovery was underway in the late 1930

  • Expansion of the motor car industry, Ford and Austin, the latter key employer of welsh of migrants with an estimated 400,000 leaving the Waes in search of work.Private motor car industry rse 1,056,000m to 1,798,000m between 1930-7. 
  • Expansion of the chemical and light indusr, and retia trade with chains like woolworths & boots.

Prices, however, fell faster than wages during the slump. This was was particulaly true of food prices.

  • As a result, the cost of living fell by more than 1/3 between 1920 to 1938.
  • Food, canning, processng and repackagin brough access to greater variety of foodstuffs. Standards of nutrition and health imprved. John Boyd, critical study f fod, health and income concluded that aional diet was better than before .

Average family size in intewar britian, Women in 1880s were likely to habe an average of 4.6 children, by the are the 1920s the equivilant was 2.19. This was partly due to the wider avialablity of contrecaption.

  • Survey of liverpool audiences in 1937, 40% cities population went to the picture at least once  a week. 
  • Pro football & cricket retained mass apea during inte war perods, aided b press & radio coverage. Presence of royal famil a cup final match enhanced football as a national game.
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Cardiff and Wales during the War


  • During the blitz of Plymouth in 1940 over 50,000 (trekkers) left the city each night, in all around 1 and  half million people moved around the country in safety.
  • In Rhonndda valley alone some 33,500 evacuees from London, Bristol and Cardiff were found temporary shelter in the homes of local people.
  • Approximately 110,000 children were evacuated to Wales in the WW2
  • Common complaints about adjusting to life in Wales, were that the village was too qiute, small villiages did not offer the freedom to misbehave and welsh speakers were scary.

1943 "Succumbered to glamour and romance of aquiring the stangers language" a qote used to sum up how the welsh language slowly started to become a secondary langauge.

Although some evacuees placed in overwhelming welsh speaking placds tried to speak welsh, but in places which were more bilingual the english language is a more prominet form of cummunication.

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Cardiff and Wales during the War


  • The Germans knew that nearly 40%of food imported from aboard, so U-Boats were were used to sink British merhant ships.
  • In April 1941 over 700,000 tons of British shipping was sunk.
  • The Government set up the Ministry of Food and in 1940, it introduced food rationing quickly folowed clothes, petrol and coal rationing. 
  • Rationing books were issued to everyone and ration coupons could only be exchanged for goods like meant, eggs, butter and sugar where peoplehad registered. Some foods such as bread, most vegatables and potatoes were not rationed.
  • The ministy of foods "Dig For Victory" campaign encouraged self sufficency, the number of allottments rose from 815,000 to 1.4 million.
  • By 1940, wasting food was a criminal offence.
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Impact of War on Society

One of the major transitions that the war caused was that it kick started the British economy.

Since the depression had hit in the ealy 1930s, Britian had suffered with mass employment , welfare cuts and the 'hungry' decade for many areas. 

Indeed during WW2, the government had become increasingly interventionist even taking action to improve the diet of the British people.

The Government's Food Policy Committee, chaired by Clement Attlee.

Authorised subsidised milk and heating fuel for mothers with small children, Likewise, in 1940 supplementary pensions were introduced for the elderly. The war years, therefore, were actually a period in which 1/3 of the population who had been unable to eat during the depression found their standards of living to have improved, even during a period of rationing.

However, a discussion for more permanent change also came necessary and in 1941, a cabinet committee on Reconstruction was established, followed by a Ministry of Reconstruction in 1942- From this position Beveridge wrote a famous reportt titled "Social Insurance and Allied Services" and the five giants: want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness.

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War impact on Society

As the second world war began to turn in favour of victory, the British government acted to help avoid such a negative repetition, A new budget was established in 1941 which was noted to propse 'unprecedented levels of taxation' on those in high incomes.

  • Further, taxations to prevent later debts would also be placed on luxary items that were still avaiable during the war, such as tobacco and alcohol.

Another reform "The Town and Country Planning Act of 1994" envisaged far greater control over the physical face of Britian. The planning of cities and countryside both ensured effiececy and a greatly improved urban area.

In terms of socio-cultural change: Certainly there was a fairly sharp reduction in income inequalities, between social class and gender during the war and immediate post war period. 

  • Between 1937 and 1951 labour income as a proportion of national rose from 65% to 71%, while profits and rental income decreased accordingly. 'All labour income' includes salaries so it does not tell us sepcifically about manual workers; but we also know that skilled manual workers average pay rose from 9%, and unskilled a further 9%.
  • This was accentuated by the increase in tax rates which nore more heavily on higher incomes, and bby the fall in unemployment , which benefitted manual workers.
  • However, unskilled men still earned half the male average; working class women earners were even worse off. Profits and rental income still went to the owners as wealth who were concentrated amongst the middle class and very wealthy,
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War impact on Society (cont)

However, looking at ither statistics which might suggest a lack of concern amongst young people for anything besides personal gratification.

  • Crime increased by over 50%, with youth crime increasing faster. The Blitz saw considerable looting, including some by Air Raid Protection Wardens. 
  • On the other hand, food rationing recieved strong support and large scale black marketeering was far lowering than in the united states.
  • The increase in illigitimate births by 25%
  • Increase in annual divorce rates from 1 to 5 in 100, suggests another type of rebellion against conventional morality. 
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The reforms of the Labour Government

The 1945 Election: Directly after the war a general election was called for the first time in over 10 years. Yet it's out come was not many expected. Labour needed 30,522 and Cons need 46,843 seats on average.

Why did Labour win?

  • The Labour party had proven their strength during the war, making up a good number of Churchills wartime colleagues.
  • Labours 1945 manifesto promised the creation of the "welfare state". Following the horrors of the war, and the long term memoriesof the depression, labour became the most attractive option.
  • Labour managed to shake association with communism
  • Churchill was often at disadvatage, his hiatus from politics during tte 1930s often meant he was not necessarily linked to the Tories, and his status therefore did no always equate to party votes. Yet when he was linked with the tories, he was not necessarily more popular, the conservative government was closely linked to the National Government of the 1930s. Their failures to deal with the economy and unemployment had lost them a great deal of support amongst the workers.
  • The Conserative party had also become more unpopular due to their links to Chamberlain who, since his death in 1940 had increasingly become the scrapegoat for the second world war. A good majority of workers felt the state needed to intervene more, to prevent horrors of starvation  experienced in 1930s.


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Labour reforms

Planned Economy: 

The government controlled all aspects of the economy by keeping an eye of consumering spending, maintaing rationing, interests, rents, profits and building materials. Exports increased by almost 80% between 1946 to 1950. Pound devalued from $4.04 to $2.80


  • The Bank of England in 1946, this meant that money would now be aviaivle whenever the ovnermnt needed it for investment.
  • In 1947, it was the turn of coalmining and cable and wireless, the government now contolled all international radio and telegraph services.
  • In 1947,1500 collieries and about 400 smaller mines were handed over to the state, to be controlled by the national coal board.
  • Later air transport was nationalised and reorganised in three companiesBritish Overseas, British European and British South Ameerican Aiways.
  • Public Transport (1948) was now to be controlled by the British Transport Commission which divided in six boards: Docks and Inland Waterways, Railways, Londn Transport, Road Haulage and  Road Passenger Transport. Hope to become more efficent, well planned and served all.
  • The Central Electricity board, set up 14 electricity boards standerised voltage and prices, aim efficent service.

American Aid and Marshall Plan

  • In 1945, 3750 with 2% interest repayable in 1951. The loan was made avaiable in 1946 but had been used up with due to the severe winter of 1967/7 caising fuel shortages.
  • In 1948, Britian accepted £3.7m (Marshall aid) and this enabled the British Exports by 1950 to increase at 75% above the 1938 level.
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Welfare state

Insurance (Want)

Griffths was in charge of converting Beveridge plans for a simple comprehensive scheme of insuance into reality. The scheme put into place involved weekly contributions from employees, employers and the state and it paid benefits at standard rates.

The cost of old age pensions had it particularly worried Beveridge. He had suggested that there might be a 20 year delay, but Griffiths did not delay.

  • A scheme was introduced to povide compensation for people who were injured at work. The Industrial Injuries Act provided paments to those temporarily hurt & log term payments to  those temporarily out of a job.
  • 1948 National Assistance Board was set up to help people to whom the insurance scheme did not provide enough hep. This help was only given only to the needy and the boards officials had to question the applicant to make sure that they were dealing with a genuine claim. This 'needs test' was less harsh than the old means test. The boards help might consist of weekly payments but it could also give single payments to solve particular problems.
  • The insurance and national assistance schemes were huge undertakenings. Thousands of new staff were needed, new offices had to be built and the fils and reords of infomation about Britian's citizens began to grow. 
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Labour reforms

NHS Disease

  • In 1946, a bill was brought in to outline the features of the health servies he wished to set up and allowed a two year delay before it would begin. By 1948 the detailed arrangements the minister was ready to make had persuaded a quarter of the doctors  in England and Wales to sign for the new serives. 

Doctors persuaded by the fact that buildings and medical equiptment were expensive and very much in need and the government could provide it for them, and doctors could contune to treat private patients.

The servies that emerged was paid for, largely by taxes and it was the first health care system available for included all women and children, and provided a range of services from GPs, specialists and dentists, to hospitals and ophthalmic treatment, from spectacles, medicene, drugs, false teeth, to midwifery, maternity and child welfare servies, from 'cradle to the grave'. 

  • However, the services costed more than estimated over 400m in the first year. Prescriptions cost about £7m a month before the health servies was created, more or less double by septemer 1948 and reached 19m a month by 1951.
  • No  fewer than 5m pairs of spectacles were given out in the first year and the demand for false teeth was double what was expected. Dentists expected 4m patients a year but twice the number sought out treatment
  • The NHS was so much of a burden that by 1951, services were started to be charged such as half the cost of spectacles and false teeth.
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labour reforms

Housing (Squalor)

The war had damaged and destroyed 700,000 homes & prevented normal housing building work from going ahead. The slum clearance programme of the 1930s had barely began to touch theproblem of sub standard housing. Churchill annouced that 750,000 houses were needed after the war.

  • The ministry's first task was to house the homeless, continued the coalitions policy of putting up pre fabriacted homes: 157,000 dwellings. 
  • Raw materials were in short supply and expensive,but  Bevan had considerable success 55,400 new houses were complete in 1946, rose to 147,000 in 1947, and to over 284,000 in 1948. In 1949-51, labour still averaged at 200,000 houses a year, most of which were a council.
  • 1946: The New Towns Act set out plans for dealing with overcrowiding in older cities, new communities were to be carefully designed and 12 were planned by 1950. 
  • 1947: The Town and Country Planning Act gave countires and county boroughs much more power to plan their communities.
  • However, although Bevan created more houses than Churchills figure and had better standards it was not enough. Nobody foreseen the increase in marriages and rapid increase of birthrate. Still a housing shortage when labour left office in 1951.
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Labour reforms

Child Welfare/Education (Ignorance)

  • Butlers Education Act of 1944 made increased the age of secondary edcucation till the age of 15, provided meals, milk and medical servies at school, came into effect in 1947.
  • The tripartite system was intoduced provided three higher education schools: grammar, technical and secondary modern. The 11+ exam was introduced to test which school an 11 year old would attend.
  • This provided education for working class children to show of their talents and abilities like never before seen before 1939.

A successful Youth Employment Service was set up and the government embarked on an expansion of univeristy and technical education. 1948, the Children's Act tried to provied a better service for children who need special care and protection.

Criticism: Some counties, like Lancashire could afford to have technical and grammar schools and boast that they made up to 40% of their secondary places. But counties like Surry, the figure was as low as 15%.

  • The 11 plus exam did not indicate which school children were suitable for but rather seleced the required number of children to fill the places avaible.
  • Children in Surrey, who would have been suitable for grammar schools had they lived in Lancashire instead had to settle for the secondary modern in Surrey.
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Labour reforms

Employment (idleness)

After war, there seemed to be work for everyone. The labour government succedded in its commitmetn to maintain high levels of empoyment after the war

  • By 1946, unemployment was reduced to 2.5% and this was in spite of huge war promblems suchas shortages of raw materials and debts.
  • The planned economy helped to keep employment rates and introduction on housings, education and insurance reforms.

By 1950, Rowntree carried out a third study of York and found far less overcrowding and povery. It was the elderly that formed the main group of the poor but even then life was far more comfortable that it had been fifty years previously.

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Statistics in 1930's

Unemployment statistics

  • 20% average unemployment in 1932
  • Mid thirties, areas in Wales and North Engand experienced 40% unemployment
  • Brynmawr 74%
  • By 1938, unemploymen dropped to under 10% the lowest for over a decade.
  • Across the whole decade britian faced an averae 16% unempoyment compared to Norway (28%) and Netherlands (27%)


  • 134,000 Women cut frm benefits due to Marriage.
  • UABs cut costs by restricted the number of fiancial authorities fro 200 to 28.
  • Not cutting employment benefit would only raise 56m out of 97m needed

Strikes and Marches

  • Jarrow Men March
  • Invergordon Mutiny
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