Britain before 1906
- Poverty could be helped by Charities and The Poor Law.
- By 1905 there were over 700 charities in London alone.
- The Poor Law was seen as shameful and something not many people wanted. Workhouses were set up to provide food and shelter but inside they were awful.
- People believed the poor were responsible for their own poverty. This view began to change thanks to The Salvation Army, Charles Booth and Seebhom Rowntree.
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The Salvation Army
- Many Christian groups ran missions in inner cities trying to turn the poor away from their 'sin'.
- William and Catherine Booth went further - they found the poor rather than waiting for the poor to find them.
- William Booth made a circle of poverty.
- Smallest circle = those who lived by crime
- Middle = those who lived by vice (prostitution)
- Largest circle = Starving and homeless, but honest poor.
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- He came from a wealthy family.
- From 1886 - 1903 he investigated living conditions, spending and income of over 4000 people. He published his findings regularly.
- 31% of people in London couldnt afford food, shelter, clothing.
- 85% of people were poor due to unemployment/low wages - not their fault!
- Class A-extreme hardship. 11,000 (1.25%)
- Class B-casual earners, widows, part time labourers. 110,000 (11.25%)
- Class C-occasional earners who would be hit by trade depression - 75,000 (8%)
- Class D - low wages with barely enough to stay alive. 129,000 (14.5%)
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- Wanted to see if Booth's London findings were the same in York.
- Worked out a family of 5 could live on 21s 8d a week
- Found out 28% of people in York were in poverty.
- Primary poverty - no matter how hard they worked just cannot provide
- Secondary poverty - afford to feed, clothe and provide shelter. On the edge and any unexpected emergency could put them over the edge
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Reasons for reform
- During the Boer War Britain had to turn down many soldiers as they were not fit enough
- Britain struggled to compete against America and Germany's strong workforce
- When Labour was set up in 1900 the Liberals worried they would lose votes - New liberalism was formed
- Believed the state should help everyone to live in security and freedom
- Recognised the poor were not to blame for poverty
- Local authorites began providing clean water, street lights, clean streets - thought it could be done nationally
- These ideas helped the Liberals win in 1906 with a massive majority
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Reforms to help children
- Free School Meals - 1906 - local taxes put up to provide free school meals so by 1914 over 158,000 children had at least one decent meal - however they werent forced. A survey in 1911 showed only half of councils actually provided them
- School Medical Inspections - 1907 - every council had to provide free medical check for kids - but didnt have to provide free treatment!
- The Childrens Act - 1908 - Parents could be prosecuted for neglect/ill-treatment. Homes inspected. Children under 14 were tried in different courts and not sent to adult prisons. No drawbacks!
- School Clinics - 1912 - free treatment given, but not compulsory so not all councils did.
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Reforms to help elderly
- Pensions Act - 1908 - Anyone over 70 who had no income got 5s a week. Married couples got 7s 6d. Meant old people could pay rent and not be a burden on children.
However 70 was old - not many working class lived that long. If you got more than £31 a year you didnt qualify. Could be refused if you hadnt worked, been in prison, or been abroad.
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Reforms to help sick and unemployed
- Labour Exchanges Act - 1909 - set up offices to help unemployed find work. By 1913 3000 workers a day were finding jobs - but many jobs were short term and low pay.
- National Insurance Act Part 1 - 1911 - Sickness payments of 10s a week when too ill to work, plus medical care. This for 13 weeks, then a further 5s for another 13 weeks. Employers provided 3d a week, goverment 2d - workers had to pay 4d and many were earning very little anyway! Only gave money to the person who made the payment so didnt help families
- National Insurance Act Part 2 - 1912 - Further additions to NI Act.
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Reactions to the reforms
- Doctors were not convinced by the health insurance
- Some workers resented the deductions from their wages
- Some charities and insurance companies didn't give the national insurance benefits to widows
- The rich hated having to pay extra tax. They argued giving benefits would make the poor lazy.
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Paying for the reforms
- Higher taxes for rich and landowners
- HOL was made up of wealthy - refused to pass the budget. Argued it would make the poor lazy
- To get it passed there was an election in January 1910 - HOL had to accept that people wanted it
- All of this lead to HOL losing some of its power.
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