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Liberal Reforms, 1906-1914

Liberal Reforms, 1906-1914. Paper 2. Year 11. Liberal Reforms, 1906-14. In the following lessons we will study … Attitudes to poverty in early 20 th C Britain What it was like to be poor About Charles Booth and Seebohm Rowntree Why attitudes to poverty began to change

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Liberal Reforms, 1906-1914

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  1. Liberal Reforms, 1906-1914 Paper 2 Year 11

  2. Liberal Reforms, 1906-14 In the following lessons we will study … • Attitudes to poverty in early 20th C Britain • What it was like to be poor • About Charles Booth and Seebohm Rowntree • Why attitudes to poverty began to change • The Acts passed by the Liberal Government • How effective the acts were

  3. Attitudes to poverty ca. 1900 • Most Victorians believed that the poor were responsible for their own poverty • Slowly, but surely, people began to realise that poverty was due to social and economic factors outside their control • The poor had a deep-seated fear of the workhouse, and stigma was attached to accepting any help from the Poor Laws • Many poor people believed that it was admitting defeat to accept charity

  4. What was it like to be poor ? • People were expected to save money against future hard times, but few could afford to do this – so, sickness and unemployment were especially feared • Many people retired as late as possible, as the old faced a miserable existence if they had no relatives to look after them • There were many charities devoted to the elderly and destitute, or specifically with children (1000s up and down the country, e.g. Dr Barnardos, Salvation Army)

  5. Born into the chocolate makers Rowntree, a Quaker family Interested in Booth’s findings and wondered if they would be confirmed in York He investigated and found about 28% people in York living below the poverty line Divided poverty into two categories – Primary poverty, Secondary poverty Wrote a book – ‘Poverty: a study of Town Life’ Born into a wealthy ship-owning family 1886-1903 he investigated living conditions, income and spending of 4000 people in London Found over 30% of Londoners were living below the ‘poverty line’ Divided poor into 4 groups Worked out that poverty was caused by problems related to unemployment and low wages, not due to the poor themselves Rowntree and Booth

  6. Why did poverty become a political issue ? • Through reports such as those of Rowntree and Booth • The rejection of ²/³ of recruits for the army as they failed the army medical – also led to concerns for the fitness of Britain’s workforce, and fears that they would lag behind the rest of Britain’s competitors • 1900 – the socialist parties joined to form the Labour Party which said it would campaign for better working and living conditions for the working people – the Liberals were worried that they might lose votes and members to this new party if they did not do something about poverty and hardship …

  7. Acts dealing with children There were a number of Acts passed that were designed to improve the lot of children in the early 20th Century … • Free Schools Meals (1906) • School Medical Inspections (1907) • Education Act (1907) • Children’s Act (1908) – sometimes called the Children’s Charter 5. School Clinics (1912)

  8. Free School Meals (1906) • Local councils were given powers to give free meals to children from poor families • These meals were to be paid for from the local rates (local taxes on property) • By 1914, over 150,000 children were having a daily free meal, every day. • However, less than half the education authorities in England and Wales provided the free meals • In 1914, the Government made it compulsory for authorities to provide these meals

  9. School Medical Inspections (1907) • Doctors and nurses went into schools to provide free compulsory medical checks for children • They could recommend any treatment that was necessary • Any treatment required by the children had to be paid for by the parents (until 1912)

  10. Education Act (1907) • Introduced scholarships for children from poor families • Secondary Schools that received money from local government were to reserve 25% for children from Elementary Schools • Children were chosen for scholarships through an examination

  11. Children were now protected, by law, against cruelty from their parents Poor law authorities were responsible for visiting and supervising children who had suffered cruelty or neglect Children’s homes to be registered and inspected Children under 14 who committed crimes were now not to be sent to adult prisons Special juvenile courts to be set up to try children accused of crimes Criminal children were to be sent to borstals, specially built to cope with young offenders Children under 14 not to be allowed into pubs Cigarettes or alcohol not to be sold to children under 16 Children’s Act (1908)

  12. The Pensions Act (1908) • Weekly pensions were provided by the Government for the elderly • 5s per week to single people over 70, 7s 6d to married couples • Full amounts were only paid to those who earned less than £21 per year • A sliding-scale of payments for those earning between £31 and £21 p.a. • For British citizens who had lived there for + 20 yrs • Not for anyone who had been in prison during the 10 years before claiming their pension • The first pensions were paid in January 1909 and were very popular among the pensioners.

  13. Labour Exchanges Act (1909) • Set up a national string of state labour exchanges • Meant that the unemployed could go to an exchange to look for a job • Much more efficient for those seeking a job and those offering them … • By 1913 there were 430 exchanges in Britain

  14. National Insurance Act (1911) • All manual workers and people in low-paid jobs had to join • Workers paid 4d for insurance stamps which they stuck on a special card • Employers gave 3d per worker in the scheme • The Government gave 2d for each worker in the scheme • If a worker in the scheme fell ill, they got sick pay of 10s per week for 13 weeks, then 5s per week for a further 13 week in the year • Workers in the scheme could have free medical care Set up an insurance scheme to prevent poverty arising from illness …

  15. National Insurance Act (1912) Although there were ca. 10 million men and 4 million women covered by the national insurance scheme, a second act was necessary to deal with workers who found themselves periodically out of work … • Scheme open to those in industries where there was seasonal employment (e.g. shipbuilding, engineering) • Workers, employers and Government all paid 2d per week for insurance stamps • When unemployed, workers could be paid 7s 6d a week for up to 15 weeks in any one year.

  16. How effective were the Acts ? The Liberal Party had made a start in dealing with the causes of poverty, and made some headway in changing attitudes, but this was not enough … • Only about ½ million old people qualified for old age pensions • National insurance covered about 14 million people, but only applied to those on low incomes or those who made contributions – not their families • Insurance against unemployment only applied to those in seasonal labour • Many of the reforms were to be put into action by the local authorities, but change was slow in some areas of the country • Remember Britain’s population was around 45 million

  17. National Insurance Act, 1912 School Clinics, 1912 Free School meals, 1906 National Insurance Act, 1911 School medical inspections, 1907 Children’s Charter, 1908 Labour Exchanges Act, 1909 Pensions Act, 1908 Tackling poverty & unemployment

  18. TASK Using information from your books and this presentation, you are going to explore how successfully the Liberal Government tackled poverty in the years before 1914: 1. Draw up a 3 column grid with 3 headings Act of Parliament Who did it help ? Who was excluded ? 2. Note down in the first column the Acts of Parliament that were designed to attack poverty. Then use the information in your books to fill in the other two columns. 3. Write a paragraph to answer the question ‘How successfully did the Liberal Government attack poverty ?’

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