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Britain During The Inter-war Years

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Britain During The Inter-war Years After the First World War Britain suffered economically. This was due to its material export sales being reduced as trade was severely disrupted in the war years encouraging customers to shop elsewhere for their goods such as Japan and other countries who took advantage of Britain's uncertainty and added taxes to their imports. Britain was also in debt by one million pounds owed to other countries, which did not help the situation. The first major slump began around 1921 when over two million people were unemployed this was partly due to many men being injured in the war over one and a half million men from the United Kingdom alone were permanently weakened by wounds or the effects of gas. Also Britain saw a large reduction in their traditional exports such as coal, iron or steel which resulted in many jobs being forfeited. The coal industry was being left behind by oil, electricity and gas, these could be obtained cheaper or even for free from other countries like Poland where labour was cheaper and Germany who were still in debt for the reparations of the First World War. ...read more.


The government even tried to cut their own expenditure this would have involved a reduction in the pay of teachers and funding to schools and hospitals. They also returned to gold standard in April 1925 this made exports expensive but did make imports cheaper. They then raised income tax and reduced unemployment benefits by ten percent; the bank rates were also reduced to a low two- percent lowering the interest earned on money saved. Two unpaid commissioners were taken on to try and revive the worst hit areas this was said to have little or no effect. The government then set out to encourage new businesses by offering reduced rates, rent and income tax, this was effective but only in providing lightweight factory work mainly directed at women to produce the all new electrical goods such as parts for irons, radios and light bulbs. This meant that people had more extra cash to spend on consumer goods and more people were able to go on holiday for the first time or even buy their own home, this was encouraged by the falling cost of construction materials and cheaper borrowing as the interest rates dropped. ...read more.


Electricity and the introduction of exciting new products led to the first advertising on a large scale this was mainly aimed at middle class women to persuade them to purchase the new labour saving goods or furthermore to persuade their husbands to buy using hire purchase. For the first time middle class families and later in 1930 s the working class had enough spare cash to take part in leisure activities such as trips to the cinema, this was a form of escapism from their bleak lives. The influence of these movies was manifested in fashion, language and smoking further encouraging people to part with their money. The films were always carefully monitored and were always full of optimism to heighten morale in the country. In conclusion the British economy improved at a steady rate, the growth between 1924-1927 was 2.2 percent. I believe this was due to increased public spending power seen firstly in the middle classes and eventually the working class. House building and new industries such as plastic, nylon, polythene, aluminium and rubber provided much needed jobs. Rearmament did help British economy but not until later on around 1938. ...read more.

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