HISTORY - Liberal Reforms

all about liberal reforms


How were social reformers reacting to the social p

The Salvation Army

  • William and Catherine Booth went around the area preaching about God and providing food for the homeless.
  • By 1878, 45 branches had opened and the movement became known as The Salvation Army.
  • Organised like an army with ranks for leaders, uniforms, brass bands.
  • By 1900 it was providing food and shelter and running training centres to train the poor and help them find jobs.
  • William Booth's work led him to the belief that many people were poor for reasons beyond their own control. 

Dr Barnado

  • Set up a charity in 1867 to help abandoned children
  • By 1905 has set up children homes. 500,000 children had been helped.
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How were social reformers reacting to the social p

Charles Booth

  • He heard that 25% of people lived in poverty in london and didnt believe it so set up a team to investigate.
  • The team worked 17 years and the data was wrote in the book called 'Life and Labour of the People in London' 
  • 31% of people in London lived below the poverty line and didnt have enough money to buy food, shelter, clothing. Most of these had problems of unemployment or low wages which were not their own fault.

Seebohm Rowntree

  • From chocolate factory in York, was a Quaker and treated their employees well.
  • Read Charles Booth's book and wanted to find out about poverty in York.
  • He calculated the income needed for basic necessities (food, clothing ..) and 28% of York population didnt have enough.
  • He published this in a book called 'Poverty: A study of Town Life'
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Why did the liberal introduce reforms to help the


  • The influence of men such as Rowntree and the Booth's (M)
  • Industrial competition from Germany and the USA (N)
  • Competition with the conservative party (P)
  • Influence of key liberals - David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill (M,P,N)
  • Impact of Boer war (N)
  • Fear of socialism and the new labour party (P)

M = Moral Reasons

P = Political Reasons

N = Nationalism Reasons

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Political Reasons

1. Competition with the conservative party
Before 1906 the conservative part were in power and they had brought in laws to help the unemployed, the liberals needed to do more to stay in power.

2. Fear of  Socialism and the new labour party
Socialism  includes a more equal straining to wealth, the new labour party was still very small and it aimed to introduce pensions and other benefits for working people. The liberals wanted to keep out the socialist labour party and therefore had to do something to help working people. 

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Nationalist Reasons

1. Boer War
As the war was soon ahead  fighters were wanted. Half of the volunteers were found to be unfit because of ill health. In poor areas 69%  were unfit having problems such as rickets, they had not grown much due to lack of nutrition. This alarmed the government as they need a strong army on short notice. The liberal reforms was then formed.

2. Competition from Germany and the USA
Britain's industrial power was challenged by the USA and Germany, by 1900 both countries had overtaken Britain. Germany's rapid development was linked to healthier, better education which meant they had a better workforce. As a result the government spread support for unemployment. 

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Moral Reasons

1. Influence reforms such as Rowntree and the Booth's
Seebohm Rowntree wrote a book about poverty, It was based on two years of studying poverty in London. Because of his wealth and connections Rowntree had influenced the government. He supported the liberal party and was friends with David Lloyd George, who became chancellor of Exchequer in 1908. 

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Timeline of the Liberal Reforms

1906 - Liberals came to power. Campbell-Bannerman was Prime Minister.
    Free School Meals Act passed

1907 - School medical service set up to provide check ups

1908 - Children and Young Persons Act
     Old Age Pensions Act passed 

1909 - Lloyd George (Chancellor of the Exchequer) brought in budget taxing the rich to pay for the reforms, especially pensions. Wealthy people were angry and the House of Lords threatened to throw out the budget. 
Labour exchanges set up to help unemployed find work

1910 - Liberal won the election giving them the opportunity for further reform

1911 - The National Insurance Act passed to help the sick and unemployed

1912 - School medical service extended to provide treatment

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How effective were the liberal reforms?


How helped before Liberal Reforms?
No real system - some charities helped poor families with children. Orphans were looked after in workhouses.

Measures taken by the Liberals to tackle problems?
The free school meals act was passed that allowed (but didn't force) authorities to provide free school meals.

Attention was turned to medical care in 1907 because most parents couldn't afford treatment. Every local education authority had to set up a school medical service. In 1912 the service was extended to provide treatment in school clinics.

The Children and Young Persons Act was then brought out in 1908. This began because insurance companies had paid money to parents after their child's death and sometimes the death was a bit suspicious. The Act gave the children status as a protected person and parents could be prosecuted for neglect. Insuring children was now illegal.

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How effective were the liberal reforms?


Limitations of the reforms
When the Act passed free school dinner not all of the Britain's authorities actually set this up and it wasn't all free.

With medical checks there was no treatment provided which meant that parents found out that their child was ill but could then not afford treatment. When the Act was then reformed and medical treatment was set up, it was left to authorities to provide the rest of the treatment. As a result medical treatment varied across the country.

Making insuring children illegal may have been extreme because some children die of natural causes and a lot of money has been put into the child. If the child was to die of any illness the parent would have lost a lot of money.

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How effective were the liberal reforms?

The Old

How helped before the Liberal Reforms?
Charities, family and the workhouse. 

Measure taken by the Liberals to tackle the problems?
In 1908 the government had funded old age pensions. This meant that any person who had work to their full ability in their work life and had lived in Britain for 20 years got a pension at the age of 70. This idea may have been small but it did a lot, old people rarely became independent and did not rely on their families for shelter and food. 

Limitations of the reforms
The money had to come from the government which came from taxes, so the people paying the money (especially the rich) may not feel that the poor deserve this money and it could cause a lot of conflict and arguments.  

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How effective were the liberal reforms?


How helped before the liberal reforms?
Charities, families and workhouse

Measure taken by the Liberals to tackle the problems?
The National Insurance Act in 1911 gave benefit to the sick. Workers, employers and the government contributed.
Free medical care.

Limitations of the reforms
Some workers objected to paying.
Families of workers did not get medical care.
Paid for 26 weeks 

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How effective were the liberal reforms?


How helped before the liberal reforms?
Outdoor relief, voluntary labour exchanges

Measure taken by the Liberals to tackle the problems?
Labour exchange set up in 1909. By 1913, 3000 people were being put in a job every day. National Insurance Act Part 9 gave unemployment benefits, again when in work, employers and government pain contribution. if unemployed could get 35p a week.

Limitations of the reforms
You could only get 15 weeks of benefits.
There was not enough money to support large families.
Some of the workers objected to having money taken from their wages.  

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How effective were the liberal reforms?

The liberal reforms were effective because some of the small changes had a big effect on people lives. The pensions given to people, may have only been small but 80,000 people stopped relying on outdoor relief. The changes may not have been much but they got something out of nothing. 

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