The Modern Welfare State

  • An Act of 1601 enabled overseers of the poor were appointed by each parish, the poor now known as paupers.

    Elizabethan government realised they would have to introduce some kind of system to support the poor. By an act of 1601, the overseers had the power to force people to pay a tax to help the poor. Those who could not work such as the old and the disabled would be provided for. The overseers were meant to provide work for the able-bodied poor. Anyone who refused to work was whipped.
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    Wealthy people left money for the poor.

    In many towns wealthy people left money in their wills to provide almshouses where the poor could live.
  • People who refused work were placed in a house of correction.

    Pauper's children were sent to local employers to be apprentices.
  • Paupers are labelled.

    A law of 1697 said that paupers must wear a blue or red 'P' on their clothes.
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    Conditions for the poor getting better.

    Providing housing and work for the destitute meant that conditions were generally less harsh than in previous times.
  • A new law allowed parishes to build workhouses.

    The first time any building was built to house and enable work for the poor.
  • The Victorian Poor Law.

    Well meaning magistrates met at Speenhamland in Berkshire and devised a system for helping the poor. Low wages were supplemented with money raised by a poor rate. Many areas of England adopted the system but it proved very expensive.
  • The Poor Law Amendment Act.

    The poor were now to be treated as harshly as possible to dissuade them from seeking help from the state. Able bodied people with no income were to be forced to enter a workhouse. (In practice some of the elected Boards of Guardians sometimes gave the unemployed 'outdoor relief' i.e. they were given money and allowed to live in their own homes). For the unfortunate people made to enter workhouses life was made as unpleasant as possible.
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    Workhouses getting better

    Gradually working houses were becoming more humane.
  • Life was hard.

    The working class were struggling. Surveys showed that between 15% and 20% of the population were living at subsistence (bare survival) level. Worse between 8% and 10% of the population were living below subsistence level.
  • Reforms were introduced

    A Liberal government was elected and they introduced a number of reforms. From 1906 local councils were allowed to provide free school meals.
  • Medical advancements.

    School medical inspections began.
  • Reduced hours put in place and Old Age Pensions Act created.

    An Act limited miners to working an 8 hour day.
    an Old Age Pensions Act gave small pensions to people over 70. The pensions were hardly generous but they were a start.
  • The Trade Boards Act.

    the Trade Boards Act set up trade boards who fixed minimum wages in certain very low paid trades. Also in 1909 an Act set up labour exchanges to help the unemployed find work.
  • A National Insurance Act was passed.

    All employers and employees made contributions to a fund. If a worker was ill he was entitled to free treatment by a doctor. (Normally you had to pay and it was expensive). If he could not work because of illness the worker was given a small amount of money to live on. However his family were not entitled to free medical treatment.
  • Frequently unemployed workers contributed to a fund.

    Workers in certain trades such as building and shipbuilding who frequently had periods of unemployment all contributed to a fund. If unemployed they could claim a small amount of money for a maximum of 15 weeks in any year. Again it was hardly generous but in 1920 the scheme was extended to most (not all) workers.
  • Saturday's off work put in place.

    Most people had Saturday afternoon off work. However shop workers were usually forced to work all day Saturday. An Act of 1912 compensated them by stating they must have half a day off during the week.
  • Benefits improved.

    Pensions and unemployment benefit were made more generous
  • Living on the dole an attractive life.

    A man on the 'dole' was about as well off as a skilled worker in 1905, a measure of how much living standards had risen.
  • The Beveridge Report.

    Recommended a national, compulsory, flat rate insurance scheme which would combine health care, unemployment and retirement benefits. Beveridge himself was careful to emphasize that unemployment benefits should be held to a subsistence level, and after six months would be conditional on work or training, so as not to encourage abuse of the system.
  • Labour Party of Clement Attlee elected.

    Labour undertook policy measures to provide for the people of the United Kingdom "from the cradle to the grave" ignoring Beveridge's concerns that any more than six months benefits would bring abuse to the system.
    Included among the laws passed were the National Assistance Act 1948, National Insurance Act 1946, and National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act 1946.
  • National Assistance Act 1948- established for the first time a national minimum.

    It established a social safety net for those who did not pay National Insurance contributions (such as the homeless, the physically handicapped, and unmarried mothers) and were therefore left uncovered by the National Insurance Act 1946 and the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act 1946. It also provided help to elderly Britons who required supplementary benefits to make a subsistence living and obliged local authorities to provide suitable accommodation for those who through infirmity,
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    After the 50's and 60's the world no longer stood still.

    Full employment began taking a battering which it has had to endure until recently. The political caravan had once again moved off in search of new ideas.
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    Thatcherism claims to promote low inflation, the small state, and free markets through tight control of the money supply, privatisation and constraints on the labour movement. Thatcherism claims to promote low inflation, the small state, and free markets through tight control of the money supply, privatisation and constraints on the labour movement.
  • Thatcher increases taxes

    As the recession of the early 1980s deepened she increased taxes, despite concerns expressed in a statement signed by 364 leading economists issued towards the end of March 1981.
  • Signs of economic recovery

    Inflation was down to 8.6 per cent from a high of 18 per cent, but unemployment was over 3 million for the first time since the 1930's.
  • Economic growth is stronger

    By 1983 overall economic growth was stronger and inflation and mortgage rates were at their lowest levels since 1970, although manufacturing output had dropped by 30 per cent since 1978 and unemployment remained high.
  • Mine closures

    The National Coal Board (NCB) proposed to close 20 of the 174 state-owned mines and cut 20,000 jobs out of 187,000. Two-thirds of the country's miners, led by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) under Arthur Scargill, downed tools in protest. Scargill had refused to hold a ballot on the strike, having previously lost three ballots on a national strike (January 1982, October 1982, March 1983).This led to the strike being declared illegal.
  • Unemployment on the rise

    Peaking at 3.3 million.
  • Coal mines cloased

    25 unprofitable coal mines were closed.
  • Unemployment falling

    By 1987, unemployment was falling, the economy was stable and strong, and inflation was low. Opinion polls showed a comfortable Conservative lead, and local council election results had also been successful, prompting Thatcher to call a general election for 11 June that year, despite the deadline for an election still being 12 months away. The election saw Thatcher re-elected for a third successive term
  • New tax introduced

    Thatcher reformed local government taxes by replacing domestic rates—a tax based on the nominal rental value of a home—with the Community Charge (or poll tax) in which the same amount was charged to each adult resident. It proved to be among the most unpopular policies of her premiership.
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    John Major

  • More coal mines closed

    By 1992 a total of 97 coal mines had been closed down. those that remained were privatised in 1994. The eventual closure of 150 coal mines, not all of which were losing money, resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs and devastated entire communities. Miners had helped bring down the Heath government, and Thatcher was determined to succeed where he had failed.
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    Tony Blair

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    Gordon Brown

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    David Cameron