To What Extent Was the Poor Law a New Poor Law?

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To What Extent Was the Poor Law a New Poor Law?

In 1832, the government was aware that something was needed to be done about the increasing rates for poor relief around the country. Eight commissioners were appointed to investigate how effective the Elizabethan Poor Law actual was, and whether it needed reform. The commission argued that the current system was inefficient, not cost effective and bad for the poor, but whether these assumptions were actually pure truth or whether they were exaggerated just to accelerate reform is debatable.

In the past, poor relief was given by different parishes to those who appeared eligible. Each parish was responsible for their own ways of working, with one overseer (a landowner or trader) in control of giving out relief, and the rate payers giving into a central fund for that community only. Now, there was a national system to be set up, where all the relief would be controlled by a central body. The poor law commission were appointed to draw up a bill which recommended how poor relief could be improved in England and Wales. Three commissioners were appointed to oversee the investigations. They were mainly politically prominent figures, who had no real care for how the poor law was. These were based in London, and given the power to issue regulations regarding how the poor relief was given.

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In the commissions, the workers were paid £2000 a year to investigate. This was unlike anything that had been previously carried out, and meant that the report was more likely to be reliable, as they were more qualified, and had experience in these matters. This could also work against them, because, as they were based in London (built up area) they may have less actual experience of what rural areas was like, especially if some of the evidence collected may had been bias. Some historians, such as Blaugh, believed that the commissioners had pre-conceived ideas that the old poor relief ...

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