What was it like to be poor at the start of the 20
There were 2 main ways poor people were helped...
CHARITIES: by 1905 roughly 700-800 private charities were set up in London alone.
Many children died of starvation, disease and neglect from living on the streets, abandoned, thieving and begging.
THE POOR LAW: The only way the state would help poor people, was if they went to workhouses.
By 1900 there was outdoor relief, where people could be given money.
However, there was disgrace and shame that came with receiving help via the Poor Law.
Quick bit of info about Seebohm Rowntree
- He wanted to tell people that poor people suffer so much that they can't even have the simplest of things.
- He says that the "wage earner" can't be absent for a "single day" even if he is severely ill as he and his family need to money.
( those "terms" are extracts from his book )
Main Point overall ( not from Rowntree )
- Poor people at the beginning of the 20th century were poor as the government was tackling the consequences of poverty, and not what the causes were.
The Liberal Reforms
THE CHILDREN'S ACT 1908:
- Children became protected persons so had to be treated fairly or the parents would be prosecuted.
- Kids under 14 were tried in juvenile and sent to Borstals if they committed a crime.
- Kids under 14 were not allowed in pubs AND under 16s could not be sold cigarettes.
SCHOOL MEDICAL CHECKS:
- These would allow the poorer families to get free medical checks if they couldn't afford to go to the doctors outside of school.
FREE SCHOOL MEALS:
- It was set up in 1906 for poor kids. By 1914, 158000 kids were having a free meal every day. (but it was not compulsory for school to do this).
The Liberal Reforms Continued...
UNEMPLOYED and ILL:
LABOUR EXCHANGES ACT (1909):
- Unemployed could go to a labour exchange to look for a job instead of travelling.
- The benefits were for both the job seekers, and the employee seekers.
NATIONAL INSURANCE ACT (1912):
- When people were jobless, the National Insurance Act was set up insuring workers for times if they were off work.
- Workers and Employers were each paid 2d/week for insurance stamps for every worker in the scheme.
- Ill workers could withdraw money from the scheme if they were ill and therefore couldn't work.
- Workers in the scheme could get free medical treatment and maternity care.
MORE LIBERAL REFORMS...
THE PENSIONS ACT (1908):
- This gave weekly pensions from the government to the elderly. It became the law a year later.
- Everybody aged 70+ was eligible for a state pension and a single person received 5s/week whilst a married couple got 7s 6d/week (this is less that 2 single people together)
MORE ABOUT THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THESE REFORMS NEXT...
Effectiveness of the Liberal Reforms
- Medicals inspections were helpful, but if diagnosed then they couldn't afford treatment. (this was later changed though, and school clinics were introduced)
- Pensions for a single person was more than 2 married people together (this was later fixed too, and married couple got 10s/week).
- Had to be 70+, but life expectancy wasn't that high.
- Also, people had to quit work at about 55, so had no income for 15 years.
(Neither of these were fixed)
- Workers had to pay to join the National Insurance, but many needed to money there and then.
- It only covered 15 weeks, so they were helpless if they were unemployed for more than 15 weeks.
- National Insurance didn't cover the workers' families.
- Only covered people on less than £160/year.