Liberal Reform Poverty

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Rhiannon Phillips 5S Higher History Essay Question: To what extent did the Liberal reforms deal effectively with the problem of poverty? In the 1850’s economic depression was at it’s worst. Although Poor Law and charities had been created to deal with this difficult time, it was clear to see that they were unable to cope with the pressure and the growing number of unemployed citizens and poor urban surroundings in Britain. At this time, most of the “well off” people of Britain felt that self-help was the only way to improving situations, and that if you were poor, ill or unable to help your self in some sort of way, then you had brought these bad things on for yourself. However, due to Social investigators reports…show more content…
The Liberals passed several reforms, which many, including the historian – G. Williams, claimed heralded the arrival of the welfare state. The Liberal Government addressed the problem of disease and the overall poor health of the nation, by passing several bills, each aiming to protect the most vulnerable members of society, such as children and old people. In 1907, the Medical Inspections Act dealt partially with the problem of disease in schools. Free medical inspections took place following the go-ahead of this Act, but although the Act highlighted the ill health of the nation’s children, it did nothing to improve the problem, as for most parents, they could not afford medical treatment, and this was something else the government didn’t offer. Part one of the National Insurance Act of 1911 provided health insurance for workers who earned less than £160 annually. This act was triggered both by the issue of “national deficiency” and because of the tuberculosis outbreak which had been claiming 75,000 lives each year. Though this Act provided some significance in the fact that it was the first time that the Government had offered such insurance, it failed to provide the sufficient help needed for the sick employee’s family, only for the employee themselves. Also, sickness benefit became less and less as time passed, and after 26 weeks it was no longer available. The final reform act passed by the Liberals, was one that concentrated on lessening the poor health, this was the Workmen’s Compensation Act of 1906. This provided compensation for injury sustained whilst at the workplace. However, in many trades and industries, the government failed to establish minimum wage levels or a limit to working hours, resulting in doing little to ease the poverty of many British
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