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To what extent do the sources support the idea that changing attitudes towards the poor, shaped responses to poverty in Britain1830-1939?

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Introduction

British History Coursework: Part A To what extent do the sources support the idea that changing attitudes towards the poor, shaped responses to poverty in Britain 1830-1939? Howard Newman 6364 Paternalism underpinned the Old Poor Law, the perception that those in power should take responsibility for their workers. The Old Poor Law provided 'out-relief' for those in poverty as an addition to their weekly wage. By 1832, however, the industrial revolution had begun and capitalism was the leading system. A new approach of 'self-help' marked the demise of paternalism. This new attitude was the belief that poverty was the fault of the poor. The government's role was to uphold sovereignty and win foreign wars, with very little intervention in domestic social issues. The 1834 Poor Law Report was an investigation into the failings of the Old Poor Law. It began with the ratepayers growing discomfort at paying the rising poor rates during the Napoleonic wars. The Poor Law Commission was provoked by the upward trend of relief and rural unrest; the 'Swing' riots of 1830. Its investigation was premeditated with beliefs, however, they did come to realise that the Old Poor Law was a system which was outdated for a country in the middle of an Industrial revolution. ...read more.

Middle

This is where Source 4 comes into context. Source 4 is a collection of statistics which show a decline in the number of the population receiving outdoor relief. The number of paupers on outdoor relief is always greater than those on indoor relief. This is because; people on indoor relief were only those who could not avoid the workhouse, the opposition against indoor relief and the New Poor Law was so organised and also the problem of economic fluctuation. The workhouse simply could not accommodate for workers during economic depressions such as 1874 so outdoor relief would be temporarily reinstated. The Booth and Rowntree reports highlighted that 'poverty' as apposed to pauperism was the issue and used the 'poverty line' as a method of demonstration for how many people were living in poverty. It shocked the nation to realise that a colossal amount of the population were living below the bare minimum needed to survive. Something Mayhew was trying to convey was that 'self-help' and picking yourself up was an uncomplicated concept coming from a wealthy, independent middle-class perspective. Only when we understand the nature of poverty and its causes can we appreciate the working-class struggle. Mayhew wished to provide an alternative to the workhouse which is why he advocated the 'friendly societies' and mutual aid associations. ...read more.

Conclusion

It also mocks the opinion that unemployment is a necessary state as long as it is made undesirable. The 1930s, when this piece was written, was the time of the great depression and in this difficult time the problems of poverty were highlighted again and again and it was now clear the state should intervene; the issue was how and how much. Source 7 gives us some idea of what exactly the government did to try and deal with the issues of poverty. The government carried out a policy, after much debate from leading economists, of retrenchment rather than spending their way out of depression. This was a time of national government, when the workhouse was extinct and the New Poor Law was defunct with it. During the great depression the motives of the government were influenced by fear of disorder and revolution in the classes. The state was now responsible and their stance was not just about accepting knowledge, it was about working class men getting the vote; their most important asset. They were limited by their unwillingness to expend the nation's money. They were looking for a viable solution at an affordable cost, and in the end this meant the cutting of the dole and the introduction of the means test. 1 ...read more.

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