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Changing attitudes to poverty, by Government and Society between 1834 and 1942

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Introduction

Changing attitudes to poverty, by Government and Society between 1834 and 1942 Holly Exell 12/01/2006 Assignment 1 The Overall aim of this essay is to analyse and evaluate the changing attitude to poverty, by government and society between 1834 and 1942. This will be achieved through an examination of the following areas. a) The history of the Poor Law/Poor Law Amendment b) Philanthropic approaches and changes in public perception of poverty c) The Beveridge report d) Social Policy legislation with regard to poverty. The Poor Law of 1601 established the main features of the Poor Law for the following 233 years. The poor people of this period lived with humiliation, degradation and stigmatism. They would be forced to go into workhouses where the work was deliberately hard and unpleasant to discourage them from seeking relief from their parish. This was a Social Policy of control, Hierarchy of class, Fear, Misery and personal responsibility. In 1832 The Royal Commission on the Poor Laws was set up by the Whig Government with seven members. The two most influential being, Nassau Senior, the Professor of Political Economy at Oxford University and Edwin Chadwick, a lawyer and as previously mentioned private secretary to Jeremy Bentham. ...read more.

Middle

In the first half of the nineteenth century, the poor were viewed as, lazy and drunken. Extravagance was seen to be the cause of hardship. It was argued that anyone could help themselves out of poverty by adopting the self-help values. It was also argued that thrift and sobriety would lead to prosperity and respectability. In the second half of the century new ideas and attitudes started to challenge the old assumptions. It started to emerge that attitudes from people such as writers, journalists, government officials and social investigators were changing towards the poor being responsible for their poverty, stating the majority of the poor had found themselves trapped in circumstances out of their control for example, unemployment, irregular work, low wages, sickness or death. If individuals were indeed victims of social and economic circumstances beyond their control then should not a larger power step in to protect them from the consequences? Despite the attempts of philanthropists and friendly societies it became clear that only the state was powerful enough to take on this role. (Murray, 1999) Victorian Philanthropy played a large part in the reform of the welfare state. Families such as the Rowntree's and Cadbury's were major influences over the welfare state we have today. ...read more.

Conclusion

after the war many husbands did not return and the workhouse was no longer an option for such a large proportion of society that were now widowed. Following the Rowntree report another big player in the reform of Social Policy was Beveridge. Beveridge used Rowntrees report as a guide and produced his report. The Five Giants- The Problems in Society. The labour government based their reforms on this report. Beveridge identified five giant problems, these were: Want - Poverty Disease - Health Care Squalor - Housing Ignorance - Education Idleness - Work (www.bbc.co.uk) Beveridges report led on to a commitment by the Labour Government to "Provide For People Who Can't Provide For Themselves". This statement is a huge change in attitude from the days of the Poor Law, where 'the Poor were responsible for themselves and their poverty'. Legislation arising from this report was: National Health Service Education Act New Towns and Houses More people to receive sickness and unemployment benefit (1946) Everyone can get relief (1948) Widows and Maternity benefit Retirement Pension at 65 yrs for men and 60 for women Family allowance - Paid to the mother Industrial Injuries - paid at higher rate than sickness. To summarise these findings the simplest answer would be: The more things change, the more things stay the same. ...read more.

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