Social Policies of the Lloyd George Coalition 1918-1922 (British Politics 1918-1929)(Britain 1900-1951)

  • Created by: oanderton
  • Created on: 31-08-20 13:00


Following a post-war boom and a surplus in the reform budget, Lloyd George attempted to pass many social reforms to ensured that pre-war reforms had not come to an end.


  • The end of the post-war boom brought an end to the reform policies.
  • Eric Geddes was appointed to advice the government budget when the boom ended.
  • Geddes' 3 reports advised £87 million in cuts to government spending.
  • Government aimed to cut £52 million - 10% of government spending.
  • These cuts brought an end to many of the reforms, such as housing, a 7 hour day for miners, and the nationalisation of rails and mines.

Overall, although attempts were made to introduce many new revolutionary reforms, economic hardships and the end of the post-war boom meant the Coalitions social reforms were overall a failure.

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Reasons for Social Refrom

  • Desire to continue the work of the pre war years.
    • From Liberals in the Coalition.
  • Concessions had to be made to the working classes.
    • Due to large scale post war disturbances.
  • Post war boom.
    • Government thought reforms could be afforded.
    • Surplus in the health and unemployment insurance fund.
  • A need to make the transition from war to peace.
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Reforms Introduced

  • 1918 Maternity and Child Welfare Act
    • Aimed to improve provision for the health of mothers and young children.
    • Increased maternity benefits
    • Introduced maternal and child welfare clinics, day nurseries and health visitors.
  • 1919 Old Age Pensions Act
    • Increased the 1908 benefits
  • 1919 National Insurance Act
    • Compulsory health insurance extended to all those earning up to £250
    • Reduced the doctors' capitation fee
  • 1920 Unemployment Act
    • Extended 1911 act to more occupations
    • Provided 15 weeks of unemployment benefits.
    • Helped over 11 million workers
  • 1921 Unemployment Insurance
    • After 26 weeks of payments there would be transitional payments.
    • Kept unemployed workers from going into the workhouse.
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ii. Reforms Introduced

  • 1921 Unemployed Dependants' Act
    • Gave benefits to the families of unemployed workers
  • 1919 Addison Housing Act
    • Local authorities build houses with low rents.
    • 70,000 a year
    • Subsidised by £260 a house.
    • 213,000 built
  • 1919 Coal Mines Act
    • Guaranteed a 7 hour day for miners
  • 1920 Agriculture Act
    • Guaranteed agricultural prices to help farmersprotected labourers' wages by a special board
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Why Did The Reforms Stop?

  • 1922: The economic outlook was very different.
    • Put a stop to further reforms
  • April 1920: End of the post war boom
  • Unemployment started to rise
    • End of 1920: 700,000 men were unemployed
    • June 1921: over 2 million unemployed
    • End of 1921- 1.9 million
  • Unemployment did not fall below 1 million until WWII
  • Boom cushioned the return men from war into civilian life.
  • Jobs in heavy industry
  • Large numbers of small businesses set up
  • 17,000 small farms established
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Geddes Axe Cuts

Geddes Axe Cuts: 3 reports published in February 1922

Recommended £87million in cuts to government expenditure.

  • Goverment aimed to cut £52 million.
    • 10% of total spending
  • Government expenditure had to be cut...
    • Falling trade and government income
    • Heavy debts from WWI
  • August 1921: Lloyd George brought in wartime advisor Sir Eric Geddes.
    • To chair a committee on national expenditure.
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Results of Geddes Axe Cuts

Social policies began to unravel as a result of the Geddes Axe cuts.

  • Government was anxious to reduce any financial commitments
  • Housing subsidies ended
  • Local authorities that had wanted to end the workhouses and the old local poor rates were liable for prosecution.
  • Controlled wages for farm workers ended
  • Coal miners faced longer hours
  • Railways Act 1920: Ended wartime control of the railways, replaced this by grouping them into 4 large private companies.
  • Mines were denationalised.
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Why were import duties introduced?

  • Calls for import duties due to...
    • Fall in revenue
    • Problems faced by British industries
  • Import duties had been introduced during the war by the Coalition.
    • These were kept -  more were added on. 
  • To protect British industry.
    • Imports on dyes to protect chemical industry.
  • Safeguarding of Industries Act 1921
    • 33% duty on some imports.
      • Optical glass, laboratory porcelain, hosiery latch needles, metallic tungsten, synthetic chemicals.
    • Not a general tariff.
    • Taxes on German imports
    • Only affected 3% of imported goods
  • Government did not respond to demands for protection of British industry
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Economic Problems Caused by Geddes Axe

  • Cuts restricted house building.
    • Still a considerable shortage
  • Old Workhouses and Poor Law had not been replaced by a more modern system of welfare.
  • Wartime controls were lifted
    • Left the railays with problems of outdated stock and under investment.
  • Coal mines returned to their owners.
    • Wage cuts due to falling coal sales.
    • Longer hours return for miners. 
  • Unemployment was high
    • Seemed no strategy to deal with causes or effects
  • Industrial unrest remained high
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How Successful Were the Social Policies?


  • De-militarisation of 4 million men had been achieved successfully.
  • Had been social reforms, when circumstances allowed.
  • Had not seen a violent revolution
  • Attempt to return to normal conditions
  • Many were glad to see the end of government restructions and controls
  • General consensus that government had a duty to reduce the deficit


  • By 1922: Plans for reconstruction and reform had to be abandoned.
    • Caused by growing economic problems
  • Rising unemployment
  • Resentment that war had not led to a better Britain.
  • Had been unrest
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