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Social Security Through History.

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Social Security Through History. In the middle ages help for the poor, the sick and the elderly was provided primarily by family friends and occasionally by the church. The state did not become included in the welfare provision until the poor law act of 1601, which made local parishes responsible for providing poor relief. This relief was paid for by local rates. This replaced previous Acts and remained the basis for the poor until 1834 poor amendment Act. By the beginning of the nineteenth century 10% of the population were receiving poor relief creating a burden on the local ratepayers. (Alcock, 1996,p.20) This essay will look at welfare before the welfare state. Why workhouses were set up and who was to benefit and enter them? Has modern society changed over the last 400 years? There have been many social policy attempts that have come into force towards poverty from 1601 to the present day. Many were negative and never thinking of the individual, just how to get them off the streets and out of destitution. In the later part of the seventeenth century relief of the poor required church wardens to set up correction houses for the poor and anyone refusing to work. They were to set the able-bodied and children off to work to gain apprentices. In the 21st century this is still the case with the benefit system, the new deal scheme provides jobs not to benefit the individual but to keep people out of destitution. ...read more.


However for many years the mentally ill stayed in the workhouses in appalling conditions. Workhouses were not prisons and entry was voluntary although often painful. Although the workhouses were primarily there to protect the destitute there were strong criticism. Families were separated and punished if they spoke to one another. This would have been difficult enough for man and wife but would most likely have caused severe emotional stress for young children, and even long term psychological harm. So the poor were being punished for only being poor and the blame was put on individuals. People entering the workhouses were not all criminals, just guilty of being poor. Inmates were suffering absolute poverty; not requiring the basic needs for human survival, no food causing hunger, no shelter to keep them warm and safe. The cycle of poverty was hard to break. Poverty tends to breed poverty and in many cases is passed from one generation to another. Many people claiming poor relief and entering the workhouses were seen collapsing and emotionally distressed before facing the reality of the workhouse. It was the final soul searching decision anyone could ever take either, enter the workhouse and be treated like a hard criminal or starve to death. On entering the workhouse, paupers were stripped, searched, bathed and given a uniform, comprising of hardwearing clothes and boots. ...read more.


As time went on conditions improved. Workhouse schools were introduced to prepare children for an independent life or more for the financial gain of the Government. By educating the young and teaching them new skills this would provide the workforce for society. Maybe the young could break the poverty cycle they were accustomed to. There have been many attempts in history over the last four hundred years to try and alleviate poverty. The workhouses were originally set up to help people support themselves. There was a positive attempt at reducing the poor population, although this aim was never fulfilled The workhouses were criticised for being very in humane. The government believed the poor were being treated fair considering the circumstances they were in, and maybe even blamed them for being in that situation. These thoughts are still propagated through society today the poor are still seen as the lower class and looked down on as idle, many poor people feel they are worthless to not only society but also themselves. However if workhouses were like hotels this would have encouraged idleness. Many policies bought nothing but distress and cruelty to the poor and the needy. Furthermore it has to be argued that rather than face starvation, on entering the workhouses poor people would receive the basic food and shelter to live although conditions were appalling. A little like modern society today either you can have what is offered to you by the state or you can starve to death. ...read more.

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