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To what extent did the Liberal Government (1906-14) set up a Welfare State in Britain? The Liberal Government (1906-14) worked hard at providing Britain with a 'Welfare State

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Introduction

To what extent did the Liberal Government (1906-14) set up a Welfare State in Britain? The Liberal Government (1906-14) worked hard at providing Britain with a 'Welfare State'. This meant the provision of comprehensive, equal, universal state services for the prevention of disease, squalor, want, idleness and ignorance. Between 1906-1914 many social reforms were introduced to help provide a Welfare State but to what extent was it actually established? The first of the social reforms by the Liberal Government was the Education (provision of school meals) Act 1906. This act endeavoured to provide school meals for needy children. It was worked on the 'feed the stomach, then the mind' theory i.e. children who were hungry were unable to learn. This act although introduced in 1906 was not actually made compulsory until 1914. This was the first in a number of reforms designed to improve the lives of children, therefore adding to the welfare of the state. ...read more.

Middle

These acts did help to improve the welfare of children but may have been more helpful if they had been followed directly by all local authorities. Also the Liberal Government did not initiate these ideas themselves, although they did take them over. An act was also introduced for the welfare of the elderly. This was the Old Age Pensions Act and was introduced in 1908.This act had been debated for many years as part of an enquiry into the subject of poverty amongst the elderly. Up until 1908 many people in the government had a feeling of laissez-faire but now they were stepping away from this. The act meant that a pension of 5s per week was given out to all people over 70. This however was not enough in many cases for living. This was the first time that the government had tried to tackle individual poverty and although it was perhaps not enough it was a start towards giving pensioners rights. ...read more.

Conclusion

Lastly, each person got free medical treatment and maternity benefit of 30 shillings. Also in 1911 the National Insurance Act (Part 2) was granted. This meant that a compulsory scheme of unemployment insurance for companies who were badly hit by periodic unemployment. This meant that if someone was made unemployed then they were entitled to 7 shillings a week benefit for up to 15 weeks. These acts did help to help create a welfare state but some of them were somewhat restricted in that they helped some workers but were a long way from having universal policy for the sick and unemployed. The Liberal Government did help towards creating a Welfare State though in some cases they did not introduce all these acts themselves but they did uphold them and they did intend to expand on some of them. They made a firm step forwards, away from laissez-faire and towards creating the Welfare State that we have today. ...read more.

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