The 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act

1834 Poor Law Amendment Act

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The 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act

  • The government responded to the Royal Commission Report by drawing up a bill that broadly reflected the recomendations in the report.
  • The purpose of the PLAA was to bring about radical reform of the system of poor relief. the act contained four main mechanisms for acheiving this:
    • A central authority called the Poor Law Commission would be set up to regulate the poor law system
    • Parishes would be gruped together to form new Poor Law Unions in order to benefit from economies of scale.
    • A workhouse would be set up in each union and the conditiond would be worse that the poorly paid infdependent worker, so people would be deterred from entering them.
    • 'outdoor relief' for the able-bodied poor would be ended so that those seeking poor relief would have to enter the workhouse.
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The Poor Law Commission

The Central authority established by the act

it was made up of three commissioners based in London who had wide ranging powers to issue rule and powers over the management of the poor law.

Chadwick was made Secretary to the commissson.

he hoped to be a commissioner in his own right and remained bitter to have been given a subordinate role.

the commissioner were initialy supported by nine assistant commissioners whose job was to ensure that the decision of the central authority was excecuted at a local level.

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Poor Law Unions

  • under the old poor law there was 1500 parishes, the aim now was to group the parishes into groups of 30, each managed by a board of guadians
  • The board of guardians were to be elected by the ratepayers of the whole area, with each parish having at least one representative on the board.
  • Each union was to be responsible for the workhouse in its area.
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Workhouses. Abolition of Outdoor Relief

  • Under the old poor law the workhouse was seen to be unthreatening and sometimes and even friendly insitute
  • Under the new poor law the workhouses were made to discourage applicantsl, the consitions were made to be less appealing than those endured by the poorest labourer outside of the workhouse.
  • This was known as the principle of less eligibility
  • If applicants refused to accept workhouse life they were held to have 'failed the workhouse test'

Abolition of Outdoor Relief

  • was intended to be restricted and eventually abolished.
  • so that those who failed the woprkhouse test would have no entilement to relief.
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