Effectiveness of the Liberal Reforms

Effectiveness of the Liberal Reforms

Effectiveness of the Liberal Reforms The Young What was done? The Liberals introduced three acts to try and improve the health and wellbeing of the young citizens of Britain : The Education (Provision of School Meals) Act 1906 The Education (Administration of Provisions) Act

1907 Childrens Act (aka Childrens Charter) 1908 The Education (Provision of School Meals) Act 1906 This act introduced free school meals for children. Due to high levels of poverty, children could often go days without a good meal. The Government were aware that this would impact their education and, of course, their health. Once a day, therefore, children in school would

receive a substantial meal. Benefits of this act This was clearly beneficial as it meant that children could receive a substantial meal every day, as opposed to not having anything to eat. This would increase their strength and their health overall, as well help them to function properly in school. By 1914, 14 million meals were provided in total (1906

= 3 million) Negatives (Limitations) of this act Despite the obvious benefits of providing children with food in school, there were still several limitations to this act which some criticise the Liberals for. It was not a compulsory scheme. Local authorities could choose whether or not they wanted to introduce school meals. Many chose not to because they would have to raise taxes in order to pay for the meals.

By 1911, less than 1/3 local authorities were providing school meals. Also, meals would only be given when children were at school. So they would not be receiving it during school holidays. Overall evaluation of this act The Liberals can be praised for their attempt to ensure children were properly fed by providing a school meal once a day. However, the fact that the scheme was not compulsory

which led to less than 1/3 of authorities not introducing it means that the 1906 Education act did not effectively tackle the issue of poor physical health in children. The Education (Administration of Provisions) Act 1907 This act made medical inspections in schools compulsory. Pupils would now see a school nurse at

different points in the year to be checked for a number of diseases and conditions. Benefits of this act Medical inspections meant that diseases and conditions many children had were being highlighted. A great deal of medical conditions were highlights. Eg in Glasgow, 30% of pupils were found to be verminous.

From 1912 onwards, treatment was given to children in some local authorities that was paid for by Government grants which helped to improve their health. Negatives (Limitations of the act) From 1907-1912 these inspections simply diagnosed problems. There was nothing put in place to actually treat disease. Even in 1912 when some local authorities were

given grants for treatment of children, again this was not compulsory for all authorities so many children still went untreated because their families could not afford to have them treated. Evaluation of this act The Education Act 1907 was a step in the right direction as it aimed to diagnose different illnesses and conditions in children. Criticism or praise of this act depends on the

time period. From 1907-12 the Liberals can be criticised because this act only highlighted the health problems in children without actually treating them. This was rectified slightly after 1912 when some authorities were given grants to treat children. However, once again this was not made compulsory so many children were not being treated for their illnesses despite them being diagnosed during inspections. The Old Old Age Pensions Act 1908

In order to combat poverty with the elderly, the Liberal Government introduced the Old Age Pensions Act in 1908. This gave single men and women over 70 up to 5 shillings per week and married couples 7 shillings and 6 pence. If a person over 70 had an income of over 12 shillings per week, then the pension entitlement stopped. Benefits

Obviously, this gave the elderly an income. It also did not require them to have to contribute to it personally. It was given out at the Post Office. This removed the stigma that existed when poor people had to go to the work house to receive help. By 1914, nearly 1 million people were claiming a pension.

Limitations The main limitation is that the amount of money given to the poor simply wasnt enough to live on. Rowntree had stated that 7 shillings per week was needed to stay above the poverty line. Pensions only gave 5. 70 was also a high age to receive the pension. The average life expectancy in 1901 was around 45 for men and 48 for women. So many people wouldnt live long enough for it. Many working class people had to retire in their mid 50s as they could no longer handle physical labour.

Moreover, the richer people in society resented the fact that pensions were funded through general taxation. Evaluation Despite pensions not providing enough money and the issue over the age that elderly people had to be to receive it, the Pensions Act was beneficial to many elderly people, especially as they did not have to contribute to it and it took away the stigma that came with going to the Poor House. It can be argued that the

pensions should have went further and given more money to people. However, this had never been done in Britain before so the Liberals had no precedent to base the scheme on. Therefore, they must be praised for initiating this step in the right direction. Historiography Peter Clarke praises the reforms for bypassing the Poor Law and winning popular appeal. A.J.P Taylor claims the Pensions Act did not go

far enough, stating The state provided a meagre pension for the needy over 70. The Sick Healthcare throughout the 19th century was a luxury many could not afford. If you were sick, you had to bear it and wait until you were better. Of course, this often meant that you could not work and could be laid off from your job if you were sick for

an extended period of time. This led to people then not having an income and falling into poverty Booth and Rowntree highlighted this as a cause of poverty. The Sick What was done? The Government introduced the National Insurance Act Part 1 to try and combat this. This was a social security system : a program in which the government provides

money to people who are unable to work because they are old, disabled, or unemployed National Insurance Act Part 1 This act provided all workers between 16 and 60 who earned less than 160 per year an income if they were off work through injury or illness. They received 10 shillings per week for 26 weeks. Workers (4 pence), employers (3 pence) and the

Government (2 pence) all contributed to the scheme weekly. (9 pence for 4 pence) Workers would also receive free medical treatment and medicine when they were off work. Positives of NI Part 1 On the surface, this is obviously a beneficial scheme for workers who had to take time off their work if they were ill. Showed the Government were taking an active

step in caring for workers by ensuring they had an income if they were too ill to work as opposed to workers being off ill for a period of time, having no money then losing their job due to being off work for a long time. Limitations National Insurance only covered the worker themselves. Only they received free medical treatment from their doctor. It did not cater to the rest of their family if they

were ill. Many workers did not like the fact they had to contribute to it they saw it as a pay cut. Some argued that the limited time in which the benefits were paid hindered the act. Only certain people received this self employed people or those who earned better pay were not included. Evaluation This act was very good at addressing the

problems ill health caused workers. It was the first attempt at a social security system in Britain. However, its limitations left it open to wide criticism. The Liberals themselves realised this, however. Lloyd George himself argued that the Government could not afford to do more. So under the circumstances, this was a step in the right direction to helping those who fell ill. The Unemployed

National Insurance Part 2 Contributory scheme : Employer 2 and a half pence per week Employee - 2 and a half pence per week State 1 and 2/3 pence per week If you became unemployed, money from this fund was used to provide you with 7 shillings per week for 15 weeks. Positives

Provided people with an income if they were unemployed in the hope it would sustain them until they found work. 2.3 million people were insured against unemployment by 1913. Limitations Benefits only lasted 15 weeks you were on your own if you were unemployed longer than this. Only covered certain trades that were seasonal or

cyclical eg shipbuilding and construction. (Although the success of the act convinced the Liberals to expand this to other trades) Again, this was a wage cut for some and they resented the fact they had to pay towards it. Labour Exchanges 1908 Set up early versions of the Job Centre would help those out of work find a job.

Positives Improvement on previous situation where people would need to find work themselves. 1914 3000 people finding work each day. Limitations Workers did not have to register for it. Ie it was voluntary. Employers were not forced to notify the exchanges about vacancies so many jobs may

not get filled.

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