Poverty and Poor Relief

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  • Created by: Ruth
  • Created on: 10-05-10 18:43

The 1601 Old Poor Law

  • The law could not cope with the increased poverty and unemployment in the Southern farming areas of England
  • Many of the problems were brought about by Massive Population increase in the late 1700s.

Poverty in the Faming South

  • Low wages paid by farm owners
  • Bread prices were high

Poverty in the Industrial North

  • Trade slumps led to low wages and high unemployment
  • Low wages in the factories

Speenhamland System (Allowance System)

Because farming wages were so low wages were “topped up” to an acceptable level. This level depended on the price of bread and on the size of a person’s family.

Effect of the Speenhamland System

  • Wages went down
  • Employers realised that they could pay low wages and the parish would still top up wages
  • Workers got the same amount as an idle man who did not work at all
  • People complained that large families received more relief money
  • It made the people lazy because they did not have to work and still got free handouts.

Why did the Old Poor Law not work?

  • The poor became poorer and more desperate
  • The rich ratepayers did not like paying money to look after the poor because it cost too much
  • The rich believed that there were too many paupers who were lazy and should be working

1834 New Poor Law

Ideas for the 1834 New Poor Law came from the Report of the Royal Commission. The main idea was eligibility.

Less Eligibility

  • The idea was that the poor were lazy
  • The poor were claiming money instead of working
  • Workhouses had to be so horrible that the poor would only enter if they were desperate
  • Conditions in the workhouses were dreadful
  • Hopefully the poor would find work instead of entering the workhouse

The Terms of the 1834 New Poor Law

  • Central Poor Law Commission was set up to organise Poor Relief throughout the country
  • Parishes grouped into Unions
  • Each Union had an elected Board of Guardians to build and run the Workhouse
  • All Paupers who could not

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