Laws to help Children
- Before the Liberal Reforms, the only help available was the workhouse and charities.
- 1906 School Meals Act allowed LEAs (local education authorities) to provide free school meals paid for out of rates.
- Meant that all children got at least one decent meal a day.
- However, not all LEAs did this - they didn't have to.
- 1907 Free Medical Inspections at schools.
- This allowed everybody medical attention - some poor families couldn't afford doctors.
- However could only recommend treatment - parents still had to pay for actual medicine.
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Laws to help Children
The 1908 Children and Young Person's Act made the main difference to children's lives by:
- prosecuting people for cruelty to children e.g. abuse. Victims affected by abuse were visited regularly by authorities.
- inspecting homes of all children.
- setting up juvenile courts and borstals for young offenders.
- banning under 14s from pubs.
- banning under 16s from buying cigarettes.
However, there were some disadvantages:
- As soon as children turn 18 none of this applies.
- Children's homes might not be registered.
- Others can buy cigarettes and give them to under 16s.
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Laws to help the Old
- Before the reforms, the only option for old people with no savings or family was the workhouse or occasionally charities.
- 1908 Old Age Pensions Act - everyone over 70 got a weekly state pension.
- The scheme was non-contributary - paid for out of taxes.
- A single person got 5s and a married couple got 7s 6d, which some people thought was unfair.
- This might not have made a huge difference because not a huge number of people lived to the age of 70.
- Also, it didn't help people who experienced poverty between retirement age and 70.
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Laws to help the Sick
- The 1911 National Insurance Act (Health Insurance) allowed a worker 10d a week of sick pay for 13 weeks and 5d for the next 13 weeks.
- Workers also got free medical treatment and maternity care.
- It was a contributary scheme.The government contributed 2d a week, the employer contributed 3d a week and the worker contributed 4d a week, which some people couldn't afford.
- It also didn't help people who were ill for more than 26 weeks in a year.
- It only applied to workers, not their families.
- It didn't help people who were unemployed.
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Laws to help the Unemployed / Underemployed
- The only help before the reforms was outdoor relief.
- 1909 Labour Exchanges Act - set up job centres so the unemployed didn't have to walk for miles looking for work.
- However this did not actually create jobs; there still might not be enough jobs to go around.
- 1909 Trade Boards Act introduced minimum wages.
- However this only applied to small factories - big ones could still pay what they wanted.
- 1911 National Insurance Act (Unemployment Insurance) - men working in shipbuilding, engineering or building paid 2d a week for insurance stamps (government also paid 2d) in case they ever lost their job.
- When the workers were unemployed they could claim 7s 6d a week for 15 weeks in a year.
- However this only applied to 3 professions and you had to have a job in the first place.
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Reactions to the Reforms
- People cried "God bless Lord George!" when they collected their pensions for the first time.
- People's attitudes towards the poor were changing - they could now see that sometimes it was not always the fault of the poor for their situation.
- However, rich people didn't think it was fair for them to pay for the reforms through raised taxes on their hard earned money.
- Socialists e.g. the Labour Party didn't think workers should have to pay for their National Insurance.
- The reforms were very expensive and left some problems e.g. unemployment unsolved.
- However, the Liberals had the support of the majority of the British public, as they found out in the 1910 election, even if the mainly Conservative House of Lords were not behind them.
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