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How Far-Reaching were the Liberal Social Reforms 1906-1914?

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How Far-Reaching were the Liberal Social Reforms 1906-1914? During this period, the Liberal Party did much to challenge the traditional Victorian attitude towards state intervention. Many argue that the results were limited. However, at the time, the Liberal's social reform was essentially unprecedented and many believe that the resoursefulness and resolution used by the governmant in establishing its reforms helped to lay the foundations of the welfare state in place today. The main criticisms of the Liberal's reforms were the attitude to welfare was generally too cautious. By 1913, only 1% of national income was spent by the government on pensions, sickness and unemployment insurance and labour exchanges. It was also argued that the reforms lacked thorough organisation, failing to deal with local government administration, and that the motive for demonstrating welfare was often more political than humanitarian. Another significant concern for the Liberal government at this time was the economy of the country. The general economic situation was rapidly deteriorating and lower income groups were affected badly. In addition, the issue was made severe because of the rise in unemployment and fall in wages. The government instigated several laws to attempt to combat this issue. The Liberals initiated work at the Board of Trade to set up labour exchanges, which eventually resulted in legislation in 1909. ...read more.


and 5s a week for a further 13 weeks there after. Others sections of the act included a 30s maternity grant, 5s a week disability benefits and free medical treatment under a panel doctor. Overall, the act was quite successful in reducing poverty.Health levels before this point were so bad that millions became ill and were left with no means of income. However, the act was also unseucsessful in many ways. The scheme did not cover hospital treatment, except admission to the sanatorium intended to benefit tuberculosis sufferers and the risk of poverty was therefore increased. The fact that only workers and not their families were covered meant that the risk of poverty was increased furthermore if a member of the family needed medical treatment. The benefits of the act were also limited. They were only available for a certain amount of time and were relatively small amounts. Also, only certain trades were provided for such building, engineering and iron. The Old Age Pensions Act in 1908 provided 5s per week to those aged 70 or over The introduction of Pensions is often considered as one of the most radical admissions by the Liberal government. However, there were many limitations to this act. Many were excluded from recieving a pension: only those who had annual incomes of �31 or less were eligible for pensions; those who had claimed ...read more.


This was introduced in order to reduce the outbreaks of disease and was largely successful, helping to improve health levels in children nationally. However, there were still many faults to the legislation. Much the same as the previous law regarding children, it was passed only as a result of pressure from the Labour government and imperialistic views. Much more could have been done to improve the situation.There was no similar provision for adults or children who did not attend school. In due course, the Children's act of 1908 established formally the legal rights of children. Measures were introduced to deal with child neglect and abuse, making parental negligence illegal and setting up juvenile courts and remand homes to remove child offenders from the adult courts and prisons. This Act ensured children were not living on the streets and that they had access to food and education. The attempts made overall to improve child welfare were eventually successful, but the time taken to enforce the legislations meant that they only helped improve conditions for some children during this period. Overall, the atempts made by the Liberal government during this period were an encouragihng step towards the creation of the modern welfare state. Considering the difficulties faced by the Liberals, the reforms could be considered to be highly effective. However, the legislations had many restriuctions and nukmerous people were not covered by the acts. Much more could have been done to improve the situation further. Rachel Holmes ...read more.

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