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Attitudes towards poverty in the 1890s 

  • Poverty was often blamed on the individual which was blamed in laziness (laissez-faire). 
  • Politicians believed that people were responsible for their own welfare and that they should work hard and save for their old age.
  • The only way to get up if you were poor was to enter the workhouse. Conditions in the workhouse were poor to discourage people from seeking help. 
  • Charities to help the poor existed, but many relied on family. 

By 1900, public opinion was changing as people realised that poverty was a cause of several factors. 

  • Charles Booth - he carried out research into poverty in London and published a book to display this.
  • Seebohm Rowntree - he studied poverty and its causes in York and published a report on it.
  • Both researchers found that 28 - 31% of the population lived around the poverty line. The poverty line meaning unable to afford decent housing, food, clothing, healthcare or even a luxury, such as a newspaper.
  • Pollution: coal was used to heat houses, cook food and heat water…


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