• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How successfully did the Labour governments of 1945-51 solve the social problems of the time?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

How successfully did the Labour governments of 1945-51 solve the social problems of the time? Britain in 1945 was reeling from the social, political and economic impact of WWII, and was united in a desire for a better world than the one which spiralled into war in the 1930s. Britain faced five main social problems which were outlined in the 1942 Beveridge report: poverty, health, education, housing, and unemployment. Attlee's Labour government tackled these issues with varied success, most notably with the creation of the National Health Service, seen by some historians as the greatest achievement of the Labour government, but by others as an overly expensive system that failed to substantially improve the lot of the average working class man. Labour also met with success in implementing National Insurance, which some historians see as providing tangible help 'from cradle to grave,' and was a "spectacular political and social achievement," (Nicholas Timmins) although some complain that National Insurance did little to solve the fundamental causes of poverty, and instead only treated the symptoms. Success was more limited in providing housing for the needy; in 1951 there was still a major deficit in available houses, although one million homes had still been built. ...read more.

Middle

By June of 1948, 90% of doctors had agreed to enter the NHS. Charles Webster, the official NHS historian, is very critical, saying that this partial privatisation resulted in a grossly unfair healthcare system which benefited the wealthy far more than the working classes. The NHS was also faced with a large backlog of untreated ailments: 8.5 million had dental treatment; and 5 million pairs of glasses were produced in the first year of the NHS. In consequence, the NHS became very expensive, costing �358 million in 1950, even though prescriptions were never completely free, which was a necessary though unfortunate aspect of the NHS. Some historians, such as Correlli Barnett, link increased welfare spending with British decline, however Robert Pearce disagrees, pointing to successful competitors who spent more on social services. Martin Pugh argues that the reforms were in fact very cost effective due to the huge benefits of a healthy population. Undoubtedly, Labour's success was very real as is evident from the vast number of prescriptions (187000 prescriptions issued by 18000 doctors in the first year) and tangible results for many millions, despite the difficult economic circumstances resulting from the war. ...read more.

Conclusion

Labour's policies, according to Arthur Marwick, clearly show their commitment to the idea of a welfare stare. They provided support for the poorest; free access to decent medical care; benefits for the elderly and unemployed; and eliminated the worst in slum housing, thus, in David Dutton's view, continuing the work of the wartime coalition government. Woodroffe praises the welfare state for removing barriers and de-stigmatising poverty. While this is true, some barriers remained, such as the unfair education system, which favoured the wealthy and divided society. Pearce says that "Labour largely fulfilled its manifesto commitments, despite an adverse economic climate," and Hennessy agrees, calling Attlee's government this century's "most hyper achieving peace time administration." This is evidenced by the remarkable 347 Acts passed by the Labour government. Some historians, however, are less enthused, pointing to the lack of serious nationalisation, redistribution of wealth or social class change, saying that the fundamental causes of poverty were not tackled thoroughly enough: "One per cent of the population owned 80 per cent of the country's private capital around 1950." (Pearce) Despite these limitations, however, the Labour government of 1945 to 1951 was largely successful in reducing poverty, providing benefits, healthcare, and dealing with the social problems of the time. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Other Historical Periods section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Other Historical Periods essays

  1. How effective were National Government of 1931-1939 in dealing with the problem of unemployment? 20 ...

    Many claimed that the means test was more about government trying to save money than helping the unemployed. It was carried out by officials from the local authorities Public Assistance committees (PACs), which had been set up in 1930. The unemployed who were claiming benefit had to reveal what everyone

  2. Why Were Some Forms Of Nationalism More Successful Than Others In Achieving Concessions From ...

    War of 1831-36 which the revolutionary Nationalists, under the name of Ribbonism, were most active. The Poor Law was basically just an extension of that of the English Poor Law, whereas Ireland's needs were different to that of its British counterpart.

  1. Renaissance Education DBQ

    as crude as when they went" (Document 10). Furthermore, it was viewed that schooling resulted in a decrease in physicality, and resulted in intolerance or belittling of other occupations. By the end of the Renaissance, it was determined that more workers were needed than scholars, and that reading and writing pertained only to a small constituency (Document 11).

  2. Mideival Outline Essay

    The High Middle Ages saw the weakening of the central royal authority and the rise of power of the local feudal lords who could count on their loyal vassal and eventually became absolutely independent rulers on their territory. However, administrative changes in the 11th and 12th centuries forced the monarchs

  1. How effectively did colonial governments respond to the rise of nationalism in Southeast Asia ...

    So, as far as the Dutch were concerned, their willingness to make some concessions to the nationalist demands, betrayed their determination to prolong their hold over Indonesia as long as they could do so. In addition to that, the incredible defeat of the western colonial powers all over Southeast Asia completely destroyed the myth of western supremacy.

  2. What Problems Did The Kingdom Of Jerusalem Face In The Period 1174-1187?

    For example in 1184 even during the siege of Kerak Baldwin convened his council to decide who to succeed him after falling out with his current regent Guy of Lusignan. Weak rulers such as Baldwin meant that Jerusalem suffered as he could not cope with the strain and stress of

  1. In the context of India in the 1840s to 1947, how far can independence ...

    his own conduct in other respects, and it is one of the points where I have found myself in painful disagreement.?[13] Subsequently, in 1916 the collaborative agreement between the INC and the Muslim League, the Lucknow Pact, aimed to give the Indian people more authority in the running of their own country.

  2. Despite frequent changes in policy, Russian and Soviet governments were spectacularly unsuccessful in securing ...

    This provided free access for foreign capital, controlling important branches of the Russian economy, including the fuel and metallurgical industries. [14] Moreover, according to Robert Service, domestic industrialists and banks were thriving too.[15] This argument can be supported by the growth in towns and cities between 1897 and 1914.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work