Liberal Social Reforms

  • 70% population - working class + lived in poverty
  • Ruling classes believed poverty was your own fault - laziness 
  • Self help - you can better yourself, known as 'Victorian Values'


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Why did the Liberals introduce social reforms?

  • Rowntree in York and Booth in London found 30% of people didn't have enough to live on and lived below the poverty line.
  • People below the poverty line weren't lazy - but they couldn't help the reason why they weren't working - being young or old, ill or temporarily out of work
  • 60% of recruits from poor areas failed medical because of illness due to poverty
  • The liberals realised that the Labour party had noticed these things and were worried that the poor would vote for them, therefore changed their government system 
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What did the Liberals do?

The young;

free school meals, free medical checks, Childrens Charter (shouldn't be sent to an adult prison under the age of 14)

The old;

Pensions, everyone of good character recieved 5 shillings (25p) per week

The ill but in work;

National insurance part 1;  all people in low paid jobs had to join. Workers paid 4d per week and if you were ill you would get sick pay for up to 26 weeks

The temporarily unemployed;

National insurance part 2; people with 5 jobs - temporarily unemployed, eg. ships had to pay 2d a week, If out of work they recieved unemplyment pay for up to 15 weeks. Labour exchanges were set up.

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How did people react to this act?

Childrens' acts

Most people liked these - free school meals. Few parents disliked - fear of losing right to do anything they wanted with their children.

Old age pensions

Very popular - these were seen as a gift as you didn't have to pay towards them.

National Insurance, Part 1 & Part 2

Both unpopular at first - everyone lost income because they had to pay into them

Popular afterwards - when people got sick, they appreciated the money in return

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How did political parties react to the acts?

The Liberals

Asquith, Lloyd George and Churchill - said great success - but they introduced them

The Concervatives

Said they've (^^^) gone too far - poor should help themselves - objected to rich paying higher taxes in 1909 on cars and inhertitance tax to pay for the acts

The Labour Party

Keit Hardie felt they did not go far enough; pensions were little money - unemployment benefit was only 15 weeks

They wanted socialism - state to share all wealth equally by harsh tax policies.

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What do most historians now think of the acts?

  • Most historians think the acts were a start
  • They introduced the idea that the state had a responsibility to help the poo not being helped
  • After World War Two a Labour government extended these ideas to benefits for all and a free health service.
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