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Spot The Difference Attitudes towards people onwelfare benefit in the 19th and 21st centuries

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Spot The Difference Attitudes towards people on welfare benefit in the 19th and 21st centuries Welfare benefits are given by the UK government to help certain people with low income or to meet certain needs. To be clear on the people who receive welfare benefits, it is necessary to divide everyone into classes. Even if people refuse to admit they are in a 'class' there are clear characteristics of what class they belong to. This division that is still active now, was even more operational in the 19th century. It was a way of life that the higher you were in the social class and hierarchy, then the more successful and prosperous you were to become in life. It was also some times a case of where you lived. It was Charles Booth that marked on maps of London where each social class lived. Places like Mile End Road and Orsman Road contained the 'vicious poor', the people at the bottom of the hierarchy. They were labelled as; 'The lowest class which consists of some occasional labourers, street sellers, loafers, criminals and semi-criminals. Their life is the life of savages, with vicissitudes of extreme hardship and their only luxury is drink.' ...read more.


In simple terms, it was harder to receive help in the 19th century. Today there are fourteen types of benefits, including: benefits in kind for employees, child maintenance, council tax benefit, disability and carers benefits, housing benefit, incapacity benefit, income related benefits, invalid care allowance, mothers, widows and families benefits, retirement allowance, statutory sick pay, unemployment benefit, unfit for work benefits and war pensions and industrial injuries. While in the 19th century, it was an innovation to have the poor law, today there are 2.7 million people claiming incapacity benefit, and the government are trying to reduce this number. 1.610% of the population are on incapacity benefit; this is an immense difference from what it was in the 1800's. Although there are so many types of benefits, the government has become more active in getting people into work. The attitude of the government is that they need as many people in work as possible; they have introduced schemes such as EMA, something that would never have been thought of in the 19th century. People's attitude was that the government were doing something about the increasing poverty, at the expense of the economy. But why is the government making changes to benefits? The bottom line is that society has a responsibility to care for those unable to work. ...read more.


While it seems that in the 19th century, welfare was a last resort, they didn't want to receive help, partly because the standard of help sometimes wasn't better than being left to starve. From old maps of London, it can been seen that people used to live close to others of different classes, while today, it is more likely that people move to places that are within the same income bracket. This displays another way that attitudes have changed, that people aren't willing to live near people who cannot support themselves, or they live near people of similar means. However, some similarities can be found, although it can be assumed that today attitudes have become more relaxed, today's government tries to remain vigilant as it was years ago. The government are aware of people mistreating the benefit, and so have chosen the attitude to fight those who misuse it. This could include imprisonment and fines etc. People had more of a superior attitude towards people on benefits in the 1800's, it was assumed by some that these poor were too lazy to work and the same can be said for today. But the underlying principle still remains, in the 19th century and 21st, welfare benefits are aimed to help people, and although people may have different feelings about those dependant on welfare, the benefits will still remain in place. 1 Melanie Derbyshire 12TWA ...read more.

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