How successful was the Poor Law Amendment Act in 1834 in meeting the needs of the poor in the years 1834-41

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Sam Nurding  12ARC                                   Mr Tillet                                                  

How successful was the Poor Law Amendment Act in 1834 in meeting the needs of the poor in the years 1834-41?

Most members of the Whig Government seemed to think that the Great Reform Act was one gesture towards reform that they were trying to achieve themselves. IN 1833 the first steps of reform from the Government were introduced; the abolition of Slavery in the British Empire, Althorp’s Factory Act (effective attempt at factory regulation) and the first Government grant for education. However, all these reforms had no benefits to the poor. In 1834 the Whig Government passed the Poor Law Amendment Act to help the poor in Britain. So why were the poor in so desperate need for help?

       The old 16th Century system stated that each Parish was expected to look after its own poor, and it had became traditional practice for poor people unable to support themselves to be sent back the parish of their birth. The money which provided relief to the poor came from a special rate paid by the inhabitants of the parish. The poor by the old system were classified into three categories; those who could not find work also known as Able-bodied Poor, those who were too ill, old or young to work also known as Impotent poor and the idle poor who refused to work. However, by the 18th Century nearly over 15,000 Parishes were giving the money to the poor. From the late 18th Century, the system was unable to cope with the vastly increasing numbers of the poor. In 1975 The Speenhamland system adopted in the south was an attempt to deal with the problem, but sadly made the situation even worse. In 1975 the total money spent on relief to the poor by the 15,000 Parishes was £2 million; in 1830 it was not far short of £8 million, nearly 4 times as much. The government new that something needed to be done and by 1831 Swing-Riots highlighted the complete breakdown of the system and frightened the government into taking some action.

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       The aims of the Poor Law were very simple. Firstly to cut the cost of relief, this was done by no longer providing Outdoor relief for the able-bodies poor; secondly in order to make larger and more efficient units, parishes were to be grouped together to make Unions, each Union have a separate workhouse for the able-bodied, impotent and idle poor; thirdly conditions in the workhouses were to be made as unattractive as possible so that the poor would made every effort possible to try and find work, this was called “less eligibility”; and thirdly each Union ...

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