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Britain Liberal Reforms Introduction

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1 Britain 1851-1951 Liberal Reforms Introduction
Higher History

2 The Liberal Reforms A set of reforms (changes) introduced in Britain after 1906 by various Liberal led governments Henry Campbell – Bannerman Herbert Asquith 1908 – 1916

3 What could I be asked in the exam?
There are two types of questions that you could be asked: Motives – Why were the Liberal Reforms passed? Success – How successful were the Liberal Reforms?

4 Laissez-faire (leave alone)
During the late nineteenth century the British government, under the Liberal party, acted according to the principle of laissez faire. Individuals were solely responsible for their own lives and welfare. The government did not accept responsibility for the poverty and hardship that existed among its citizens. A popular point of view at the time was that poverty was caused by idleness, drunkenness and other such moral weaknesses on the part of the working classes. There were no old age pensions, unemployment benefits or family allowances. If the main wage-earner died or could not work, a whole family could be plunged into terrible poverty. The state would not interfere. Little done to help poor – only help through the poor law system and charities.

5 Poverty in 1900 Wealth in the hands of a small group.
Hardship and poverty the reality for many.

6 Working class housing in Liverpool in the early 1900s

7 The Poor Law System Government did not provide much help to poor people. Help for the poor was called relief. Outdoor relief: help given in their home. Indoor relief :help given in the workhouse or poorhouse. Tonbridge workhouse women's ward, c. 1897

8 The Poor Law System You had to prove you were poor.
The system was harsh to discourage people from trying to claim poor relief and take low paid work instead No help for able bodied (fit).

9 Was the Poor House successful?
Could not cope with the rising unemployment or poverty. Hated by the poor most shunned the poor house (90%). Work inside was boring, disciplined. Families separated. Workhouse near Glasgow

10 Why was it so harsh? Should encourage the poor to look for work.
Forced to look after themselves. Those in poverty must be idle, spending too much or drunk. Close, No. 157 Bridgegate, Glasgow

11 Charities To fill the gap in the welfare system a host of charities sprung up (640 by 1861). Many were motivated by a Christian or humanitarian desire. The urban middle class were becoming more aware of how inadequate the Poor Law was.

12 Charities Many would only help the ‘deserving poor’ as they wanted people to help themselves ‘Don’t give him a fish to feed him today- teach him how to fish so he can feed himself and his family every day’

13 YMCA (1844)                                                                           George Williams, born on a farm in He and a group of fellow drapers organized the first YMCA to substitute Bible study and prayer for life on the streets. By 1851 there were 24 Ys in Great Britain, with a combined membership of 2,700.

14 The Salvation Army (1866) The Army was founded in 1866 in London by one-time Methodist minister William Booth. Originally known as the East London Christian Mission William Booth

15 Children queuing for Salvation Army "Farthing breakfasts", about 1900

16 Dr Barnardo’s Homes (1869) 100 homes for 100,000 orphans by 1900

17 NSPCC (1844) founded by Rev Waugh

18 Improvements by 1900s? Acknowledgment that Poor law was failing to deal with poverty. Investigations challenged ideas and changing attitudes led to reforms.

19 Changing Attitudes: Analysis
Between the1850s and 1914 public and government attitudes towards poverty and how to assist the poor changed considerably. The laissez-faire attitudes of the government declined as the realisation grew that poverty was often the result of circumstances beyond an individuals control.

20 Changing Attitudes Local charitable organisations did their best to help individual cases but it was not until the Liberal government came to power in 1906 that nationally organised and state-funded help for the poor existed. For example, the Liberal Reforms included the introduction of school meals, old age pensions and sickness and unemployment benefits.

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