Poverty And Living Conditions In The 19Th Century.

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Poverty and Living Conditions in the 1890s In the nineteenth century, attitudes to poverty tended to be: • Poverty was often blamed on the individual. • The cause of poverty was often blamed on idleness. • Many politicians believed that each individual was responsible for his/her own welfare so people should work hard and save for their old age. • The only way to get help if you were poor was to enter the workhouse. Conditions in the workhouse were deliberately harsh in order to discourage people from seeking help. • Charities existed to help the poor, but most people relied on family for assistance. Living Conditions in the 1980s As Britain developed as an industrial nation, millions of people moved from the countryside to cities in order to work in new factories. The living conditions for these workers were terrible. Although wages increased at the end of the nineteenth century, many people still lived in horrible poverty. They faced problems of: • Poor housing. • Low wages. • Unemployment. • Illness (if a worker was ill he/she could not earn money). • Irregular work. • Little help for the elderly, sick or unemployed. Why Did the Liberal Government Introduce Reforms to Help the Young, Old and Unemployed? Changing Attitudes For much of the nineteenth century, most people believed that people were poor because they wasted their money. By 1900, public opinion was changing. People realised that poverty could be caused by many factors. They also felt that the government should give some help to the poor instead of leaving it all to charity. Social Reformers This attitude change was partly down to the work of social reformers. They produced evidence of the scale of poverty in Britain. The main reformers were: • Charles Booth – He carried out research into poverty in London and published Life and Labour of the People in London in seventeen volumes
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