Liberal Reforms

Liberal Reforms

HideShow resource information

Education Act 1906

Local councils were given the power to provide free meals for children from the poorest families.

These meals were to be paid for from the local rates.

By 1914, over 158,000 children were having free meals once a day, every day.


Although the Act was progressive, it was not made compulsory until 1914.

By 1911, less than a third of education authorities were supporting a school meal provision.

1 of 7

Education Act 1907

Doctors and nurses went into schools to give pupils compulsory medical checks and recommend any treatment they thought necessary.

These checks were free, but until 1912, parents had to pay for any treatment required.


Only after 1912 were measures introduced to ensure that treatment could follow inspection and was free.

This was left in the hands of local authorities so provision varied around the country.

2 of 7

The Children and Young Persons Act 1908

Children became ‘protected persons’ which meant that their parents could be prosecuted for cruelty against them and it was made illegal to insure a child’s life.
Poor law authorities were made responsible for visiting and supervising children who had suffered cruelty or neglect and children’s homes were to be registered and inspected. Children under the age of 14 who had broken the law were sent to Borstals not adult prisons and juvenile courts were set up to try children accused of a crime.
Children under 14 were not allowed into pubs.
Shopkeepers could not sell cigarettes to children under 16.

3 of 7

School Clinics 1912

A network of school clinics was set up that provided free medical treatment for children, as some parents could not afford the treatment that doctors wanted to give their children as a result of discovering something wrong during their medical inspection.

4 of 7

The Labour Exchanges Act 1909

A national string of state labour exchanges was set up.

This was much more efficient both for those looking for work and those offering it.

By 1913 exchanges were finding 3000 jobs a day for workers.


Work was still very hard to find and wages were low.
Many of the jobs in the exchanges were short-term or casual.

The scheme was only voluntary.

5 of 7

The National Insurance Act Part I 1911

Workers could insure themselves against sickness and draw money from the scheme if they fell ill and could not work.
All manual workers and people in low-paid white-collar jobs had to join.
Workers paid 4d, Employers contributed 3d and the Government contributed 2d.
If a worker in the scheme fell ill, they got sick pay of 10s a week for 13 weeks and then 5s for a further 13 weeks in any one year.
Workers in the scheme could get free medical treatment and maternity care.
In the beginning, around ten million men and four million women were covered.


Benefits did not cover illness of wife or children.

Did not cover those earning more than £160 a year.

Did not cover hospital treatment, except admission to the sanatorium intended to benefit tuberculosis sufferers.

For many workers, the contributory nature of the National Insurance schemes meant a cut in their wages, and therefore may have further encouraged poverty.

6 of 7

The National Insurance Act, Part II 1912

Insured workers against periods when they were out of work.
The scheme was open, at the start, to people (mainly men) who worked in trades like shipbuilding and engineering, where there was a great deal of seasonal unemployment.

Workers, employers and the Government each paid 2d a week.
Workers could, when unemployed, be paid 7s 6d a week for up to 15 weeks in any one year.


There is an argument that the policy was in fact encouraging poverty, as workers had a pay cut.
People who were already poor when this scheme was introduced were not helped by it.
The average working family could not survive on 7s 6d per week.
Also, unemployment pay ran out after 15 weeks.
Many industries were not covered at all, and this greatly contributed to the growth of poverty.

7 of 7


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all Changes in British society during the 20th century resources »