How and Why Did the Liberals Help the Poor?

Part 1 of Chapter 14 in the Ben Walsh OCR History B text book; How Was Biritsh Society Changed, 1890-1918?

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Charles Booth
Published Life and Labour of the People in 1889. This shows that 30% of London was living in sever poverty, that it was sometimes impossible for people to find work, and that some wages were so low a family could not be supported.
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Seebohm Rowntree
Not believing that poverty in his town of York, in which he owned a factory, was as bad as in London, he published a report titled Poverty, a Study of Town Life (1901) which shows 28% of Yorkers could not afford basic housing and food.
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Rowntree's Main Conclusions on Causes of Poverty
Poverty was generally caused by old age, illness or similar factors. It was not generally the result of the poor being lazy or careless with money.
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Rowntree's Main Conclusion on the Poor
The poor often suffered from the ups and downs in Britain’s trade cycle. Clearly, ordinary people could not be blamed for these changing circumstances putting them out of work and into poverty.
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Rowntree's Suggested Course of Action
The state should introduce measures to protect and safeguard the very young, the old, the ill and the unemployed.
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Why Did Rowntree's Work Have a Particular Impact?
Firstly, the figures for York were shocking because York was not a big industrial city with crawling slums. People saw York as a respectable, ‘middling’ sort of town. Finding such levels of poverty there was totally unexpected.
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The Liberals Based Their Reforms on Two Assumptions
• It was not always the fault of the poor that they were poor. • It was the role of government to support the poor when they needed it most.
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Free School Meals (1906)
In 1906, an Act was passed that allowed (but did not force) local authorities to provide free school meals. The new law meant that children would eat at least one decent meal a day. In 1914, 14 million meals were served up, most of which were free.
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Education Act [School Medical Inspections] (1907)
n 1907, attention was turned to medical care. Many parents were not able to afford proper treatment. Now, every local education authority had to set up a school medical service, providing medial checks.
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The Children's Act (1908)
Gave children special status as protected persons, and their parents could now be prosecuted for neglect. It also made it illegal to insure a child’s life. Set up special courts to deal with child crime and Borstals to house young offenders.
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School Clinics (1912)
From 1912 school medical inspections were extended to provide treatment in school clinics as well.
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Sate Pensions (1908)
In 1908, in his first budget as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lloyd George introduced a government-funded old-age pension. A person over 70 with no other income would receive five shillings per week. Married couples would receive 7s 6d.
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Major Limitations with State Pensions (1908)
Anyone who had an income of over £31 per year did not qualify for a state pension. Only British citizens who had been living in Britain for the last twenty years could receive a state pension. Pensions could be refused to people who had failed to wor
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Labour Exchanges (1909)
The government set up its own labour exchanges as part of its campaign against unemployment. By 1913 labour exchanges were putting 3,000 people into jobs every working day.
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The National Insurance Act (1911): Sick Pay
Those earning under £160 had to pay 4d weekly, with the employer adding 3d and the government 2d (9d for 4d). In return, the worker received up to 26 weeks of sick pay at 10s a week from the friendly society. There was also free medical care.
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The National Insurance Act (1911): Unemployment Benefit
The Act required a further contribution of 2.5d per week from the worker, supplemented by 2.5d from the employer and 1.75d from the government. During times of unemployment, a worker would receive seven shillings per week for up to fifteen weeks.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2

Front

Not believing that poverty in his town of York, in which he owned a factory, was as bad as in London, he published a report titled Poverty, a Study of Town Life (1901) which shows 28% of Yorkers could not afford basic housing and food.

Back

Seebohm Rowntree

Card 3

Front

Poverty was generally caused by old age, illness or similar factors. It was not generally the result of the poor being lazy or careless with money.

Back

Preview of the back of card 3

Card 4

Front

The poor often suffered from the ups and downs in Britain’s trade cycle. Clearly, ordinary people could not be blamed for these changing circumstances putting them out of work and into poverty.

Back

Preview of the back of card 4

Card 5

Front

The state should introduce measures to protect and safeguard the very young, the old, the ill and the unemployed.

Back

Preview of the back of card 5
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