Liberal Government of 1906 and Creation of Welfare State
The Liberal government returned to office on 4th of December 1905
after a ten-year absence. In January 1906 the Liberals won the general
election by a massive majority of 400 seats to the Conservative
Party's 157 seats. From 1906 to the start of the First World War the
Liberal government embarked on a numbers of social reforms that were
to lay the foundations of a system under which the state (rather than
the individual) would take responsibility for the welfare of its
citizens. These reforms aimed to ease the plight of the poor and
improve their standard of life.
Before the creation of the welfare state in the 20th Century the 'Poor
Law' was the only form of aid that was offered to the poor. The 'Poor
Law' consisted of a combination of out door relief and the workhouses.
The living condition for those not in steady employment were harsh to
say the least. The choices that many poor people were faced if they
were unable to finds work was to, beg, steal, prostitution or starve
to death. The latter may seem some-what extreme, but many people at
this time would have rather starved themselves to death, rather that
go into the workhouses. The workhouses were extremely harsh and
deliberately striped away any dignity or self-respect of whose who
were desperate enough to enter them. Those who did lost their right to
The work of Charles Booth and Seebohm Rowntree was instrumental in
illustrating the levels of poverty that existed in Britain prior to
the creation of the welfare state. Booth was born in Liverpool, moved
to London at the age of twenty-two to run the family sh.
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. on was
too low to meet the needs of the elderly and National insurance Act of
1911 only covered certain trades. The Liberal Government also failed
to address the problems of housing and education in any shape or form
but what this government did do was lay the foundations for future
social reforms and broke away from the old laisse-faire ideology of
the Liberal Party to one the was prepared to take responsibility for
the welfare of its citizens by increasing taxation to finance social
reforms. Evidence may suggest that the emergence of the Labour party,
the threat of socialism and outside pressure from social reformers
such as Booth and Beatrice Webb lead the Liberal party to change their
ideology from "Old Liberalism to "New Liberalism". Without this change
in attitude these reforms would never have taken place.
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To Be. Or Not To Be
Look at our nation! We have industrial technology, an education system, advanced health care, a banking system, plenty of food available and so much more that is easily accessible. If all this is available to everyone, why are there people that don’t have places to sleep and things to eat? The fact that the United States is a rich country is the key reason why people, that are willing, will never starve or go without having shelter. The biggest objection that people have with helping others is that much of the needy does not try to better themselves and that they take a free ride through life. One very controversial program provided by the United States Government is welfare. The welfare system can be useful in society but there are also consequences to the system that must be addressed.
Welfare refers to a host of policies and programs designed to improve the well- being of the United States population. Defined it is a state of well- being having prosperity, comfort and health. Dating back to the mid 1930’s, President Roosevelt established a program to help the welfare of the poor call the Works Progress Administration or WPA. Under this attempted solution, which lasted until 1943, public jobs were provided to the able-bodied poor in exchange for assistance. When WPA began, it’s beneficiaries totaled a half million people(Cozic, 12). Since the end of this program others have been established. The most common is the Aid for Families of Dependent Children or AFDC, which is a program for unmarried single mothers and their children. In 1995, AFDC had a line up of 14 million Americans with two- thirds being children. Since the start of the War on Poverty in 1965, the United States has spent more than 3.5 trillion dollars trying to decrease the underclass. The numbers from 1935 to 1995 rose substantially, which had America looking for better ways to solve the problem of the poor.
There are many arguments brought up among partisan politics. Like every other topic faced in this nation, the Conservatives and Liberals just cannot seem to completely agree. The main goal that both Conservatives and Liberals share about welfare is the desire to move welfare recipients off the welfare roll and into jobs. That is logical but so far out of reach. People are always looking for the easy way through life such as free assistance from the government.
While the desirable outcome is common, the reasons for failure of the system differ. Conservatives believe that many welfare recipients spend long periods of time collecting government aid because the sizable help that they are receiving is more attractive than going to work. The fact that welfare provides the basic necessities without requiring work, recipients have no initiative to become self-supporting and find a job(Rector, Internet). Conservatives acknowledge the only way to encourage the dependent poor to get jobs, is to end the welfare system(Cozic,13). By ending the welfare system, the working-aged person would have nothing else to turn to but the job market, family members, friends, and public or private locally funded services(Cozic,36). The only way to prevent new people from entering the failed system is to end the program that protects them form the consequences of their actions.
On the other hand, Liberals are welfare advocates. Liberals believe that those in need are trapped in poverty because neither the system nor the low wage work available to them enables them to overcome poverty(Cozic,14). Liberals argue that if the federal government continues its traditional practice of offering free handouts, children would be better off, and the social conditions of the underclass Americans will decline or disappear. Under the system, these ideals have been tried and they have failed. Children on welfare compared to those whose families are poor but not on welfare, do less well in school and earn less(Rector, Internet).
Perhaps one of the biggest concerns dealing with the welfare system is the factor of dependency. Imagine yourself a single woman with three children living in a housing development with no money, and no job. Where do you turn? Well, like 5 million other single moms in the AFDC program you rely on the government to help you until you get back up on your feet. While on welfare, your rent is paid, there are health benefits for your children and you even get money to spend on necessities. At the same time your receiving food stamps for food and your children are getting free lunch at school. What a great life! While the kids are at school your getting paid to keep up with Jerry Springer. Sounds good, huh? Unfortunately, it sounded good for many of the welfare recipients. Who could blame them? Many people, 70 percent in some states, do actually get off the program but end up re-enrolling because of the tax burden of low wage jobs, child care costs, and health care costs(Cozic,26). Women are going out and getting jobs finding that they are only working to pay for childcare costs. Welfare aid is tax free unlike having a job where a substantial amount is taken out for taxes. Finally when a women finds a job she is asked to give up her children’s health benefits and is left paying on her own which can be costly. Welfare has created a world in which adults have abandoned their hopes for today and have found the easy way out.
After many debates and after vetoing two previous versions of welfare reform, President Clinton finally signed the congressional reform bill into law. The new law still abides by the same structure as the previous one but indeed reformed in four major ways. First, the reformed law would eliminate improper financial incentives for state governments. Under the old legislature, AFDC was funded accordingly to the number of persons enrolled in each state. If a state enrolls more they get more or if they decrease the number they get less. In essence the states that reduce the number of recipients are penalized and the states with an increase in number are rewarded. Under the reform law, a new funding system was established. Each state will be given a fixed dollar amount which will be increased gradually from year to year and if a state reduces its number of beneficiaries, it’s federal grant will not be cut. The state keeps any surplus of the grant and can then apply the funds to other assistance programs to help the poor. Conversely, any state that has an increase of recipients will have to bear the added cost. Second, the reform slows the growth of welfare spending. The reform legislation will slow the rate of growth to around 35 percent from 50 percent over the next seven years to permit future common state spending in programs such as AFDC, Food Stamps, Supplemental Social Security Income, child nutrition programs, Foster Care, Social Services Block Grant and Earned Income Tax Credit, to expand faster than the rate of inflation. The third advancement will provide incentives to reduce illegitimacy. With the collapse of marriage, the number of babies born out of wedlock is nearly at one-third of all American children. The reform bill combats illegitimacy in three ways. 1) The reform bill requires each state government to set a numerical goal for reducing the number of babies born out of wedlock over the next ten years. 2) The bill offers an incentive of bonus funding to the state if it decreases the number of illegitimate births without the abortion rates increasing. 3) The law funds a 50 million-dollar program to educate abstinence to youth. Finally, the fourth major way of reform is that the law will establish work requirements. Remember the main goal of welfare is to reduce the number of people receiving aid by putting them into jobs. Under the new law, AFDC recipients will be required to take private-sector jobs. If there are not enough private-sector jobs, recipients will be placed in community service and will not be paid until the service has been accomplished. If an individual fails to work the assigned number of hours, his welfare benefits will be reduced(Rector, Internet). Although the new reform legislation is not going to cure all the problems with the system it is a start.
Another reform, the Welfare Reform Act of 1997, was passed generally maintaining the old system’s special needs and also has four key differences, as did the 1996 reform act. The first being the recipients being required to be in workfare for more hours being calculated using minimum wage instead of the set wage of welfare. Second, more placements of infants and toddlers in day care will help ease the costs and promote more work ethic. Third is the use of non-cash aid instead of cash to be sure of necessity usage. Finally, the previous rules exempted those with children less than three years old and the new rules exempt only those caring for a child less than 1 year old and only for a maximum of 3 months(Rector, Internet). With careful consideration, the welfare system will continue to improve as long as there are people in need.
Many people are mad at the government because they feel that they are victims of the system. In personal opinion, everyone is a victim. Taxpayers are victims because they have to pick up the bill for failed programs. Mostly, are the poor themselves. They are trapped in a system that destroys their dreams and the hope for their children. The fact that welfare is such a degrading system, many people are ashamed to step forward and claim the help they need. One example is the homeless. The availability of welfare must be combined with active outreach by caseworkers(Roleff, 195). As degrading as public assistance is, it is less degrading than people begging, stealing and starving on the streets.
Poverty appears to depend on economic growth. It is necessary to create good paying jobs and to improve the economic factors that cause poverty to help the needy. Since the formation of the welfare policy, we have seen that economic growth in itself will not eliminate poverty, but it may decrease it(Roleff,194). Congress needs to rebuild America’s inner cities, and encourage business opportunities and job creation in the poorest communities. There is no reason why in the land of the plenty we should have such a high number of people living in poverty. Once the problems of welfare are addressed, it will serve its purpose to the deserving needy of our nation. When it comes down to the just of the problem, it is up to the individual to take control of his or her life. Where there’s a will there is definitely a way.
Cozic, Charles P. & Winters, Paul A. (Ed.). (1997). Welfare: Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego, CA, Greenhaven Press Inc.
Roleff, Tamara L. (Ed.). (1996). The Homeless: Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego, CA, Greenhaven Press Inc.
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Summary: Discusses British welfare system reforms between 1980-1914. Explores to what extent were British social welfare reforms of the period c.1880-1914 motivated primarily by humanitarian concerns.
After 1880 reforms were being introduced that began to improve Britain, many in particular by the Liberals from 1906 onwards. However was this happening for the benefit of the people and their humanitarian needs or was it just a tactical motive for those who were introducing the reforms"
During this period the condition of much of Britain was incredibly poor and something desperately needed to be done. Reforms such as extending the franchise in 1884-85 meant a process was beginning that gave a larger majority a voice as to who ran the country but not as to what actually happened. The governments felt that they were improving conditions by introducing minor reforms however conditions had barely changed. Any reforms that involved the general public had to fight against a general anti interventionist society. Since the role of the individual had been a large part of life for many it was.
This section contains 1,194 words
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Arabic Bulgarian Chinese Croatian Czech Danish Dutch English Estonian Finnish French German Greek Hebrew Hindi Hungarian Icelandic Indonesian Italian Japanese Korean Latvian Lithuanian Malagasy Norwegian Persian Polish Portuguese Romanian Russian Serbian Slovak Slovenian Spanish Swedish Thai Turkish Vietnamesedefinition - LIBERAL WELFARE REFORMS Liberal welfare reforms From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
David Lloyd George was one of the 'New Liberals' who passed welfare legislation
The Liberal welfare reforms (1906-1914 [ 1 ] ) collectively describes social legislation passed by the British Liberal Party after the 1906 General Election. It has been argued that this legislation shows the emergence of the modern welfare state in the UK. [ 1 ] They shifted their outlook from a laissez-faire system to a more collectivist system. [ 2 ] The reforms demonstrate the split that had emerged within liberalism, between progressive liberalism and classical liberalism. and a change in direction for the Liberal Party from liberalism. in general, to a party of progressive liberalism and larger, more active government.
The Liberal welfare reforms took place after a Royal Commission on how the country's Poor Law provision should be altered. Two contrasting reports known as the Majority report and the Minority Report were published, and as they differed so greatly the Liberals were able to ignore both reports and implement their own reforms. By implementing the reforms outside of the Poor Law the stigma attached to claiming relief was also removed.
During the 1906 General Election campaign neither of the two major parties made poverty an important election issue and no promises were made to introduce welfare reforms. Despite this the Liberals led by Henry Campbell-Bannerman won a landslide victory and began introducing wide ranging reforms as soon as they took office. [ 3 ]
The Conservative government in office before the Liberals came to power passed the Unemployed Workman's Act in 1905 and the Employment of Children Act in 1905. Slum housing was also cleared for new houses to be built. Much of this legislation was left for local authorities to implement - their attitudes affected whether legislation was fully implemented. [ 7 ] The Conservatives also set up a Royal Commission to enquire into the workings of the Poor Law.Liberal reforms 1906-1914
In 1906 Children were provided with free school meals. However, many local councils ignored this system, as it was not compulsory for them to provide the free meals and the cost to the council was far greater than was subsidized for. The provision of free school meals was made compulsory in 1914- in which year fourteen million were served, most free. In 1912, half of all councils in Britain were offering the scheme. The government realized that they could not fight WW1 with a force of malnourished and ill children, when they had to conscript. In 1908 the Children and Young Person's Act formed part of the Children's Charter which imposed punishments for those neglecting children. It became illegal to sell children tobacco, alcohol and fireworks or to send children begging. Juvenile courts and borstals were created instead for young offenders so they did not have to stand in adult courts and go to adult prisons for most offenses. [ 8 ] Medical inspections began in 1907 but many poor families couldn't afford the cost of the doctors fees to get treated; it wasn't until 1912 that medical treatment was provided. Education authorities largely ignored the provision of free medical treatment for school children. [ 8 ]
In 1908, pensions were introduced for those over 70. They paid 5s a week (£21 in today's money [ 9 ] ) to single men and women and 7s 6d to married couples, on a sliding scale. The single persons rate applied to those over 70 earning under £21; this sum could be collected at the local post office. [ 9 ] The pensions were means-tested (to receive the pension, one had to earn less than £31.50 annually) and intentionally low to encourage workers to make their own provisions for the future. An example of how low this amount was, is that if an elderly person was to live on their pension alone they fell below Rowntree's poverty line. It was a struggle for elderly persons to claim their pension as they had to prove that they were not drunkards, for example. Even more, to qualify for the pension scheme, they had to have worked to their "full potential". There were no fixed guidelines as to what "full potential" was, so people who had been briefly unemployed could be penalised. To be eligible, they also had to have lived in the country for 20 years or more, so many immigrants could not claim their pensions, or British people who had worked abroad and returned to Britain to retire. The Labour party argued that most people would not live until their 70th birthday because in the worst industrial slums the average life expectancy was in the mid-40s. [ 8 ]
In 1909 labour exchanges were set up in order to help unemployed people find work, by providing centres where a large number of employers and the unemployed could post jobs and apply for them respectively. In 1913 these labour exchanges were putting around 3000 people into a job each day. The National Insurance Act (Part I) passed in 1911 gave workers the right to sick pay of 10s a week and free medical treatment in return for a payment for 4d (the payments would last for 26 weeks if the person was off ill).The medical treatment was provided by doctors who belonged to a "panel" in each district. Doctors received a fee from the insurance fund for each "panel" patient they treated. The National Insurance Act (Part II) gave workers the right to unemployment pay of 7s 6d a week for 15 weeks in return for a payment of 2½d a week.Health Insurance
Under Part 1 of the National Insurance Act 1911 compulsory health insurance was provided for workers earning less than £160 per year. The scheme was contributed to by the worker who contributed fourpence, the employer who contributed threepence and the government who contributed twopence. The scheme provided sickness benefit entitlement of nine shillings (£36), free medical treatment and maternity benefit of 30 shillings (£120). [ 10 ]Unemployment insurance
Under Part 2 of the National Insurance Act 1911 which dealt with unemployment insurance most insured workers were given seven shillings (35p) unemployment benefit which could be claimed for up to 15 weeks a year. This scheme was also financed through the contributions of workers and government.Reforms after 1910
After 1910 the Liberal Party did not have a majority in the House of Commons and so entered into a coalition with 42 Labour Party MPs who had been elected. This led to further reforms as the Liberals required Labour support and Irish support to remain in office. [ 5 ]The People's Budget (1909)
The Liberal reforms were funded by David Lloyd George passing his Finance Bill (that he called "the People's Budget ") which taxed the "rich" in order to subsidize "working" citizens and the ill and injured.
Lloyd George argued that his budget would eliminate poverty, and commended the budget thus:
This is a war Budget. It is for raising money to wage implacable warfare against poverty and squalidness. I cannot help hoping and believing that before this generation has passed away, we shall have advanced a great step towards that good time, when poverty, and the wretchedness and human degradation which always follows in its camp, will be as remote to the people of this country as the wolves which once infested its forests". [ 11 ]
The budget met opposition in the House of Lords and, contrary to British constitutional convention, the Conservatives used their large majority in the Lords to vote down the Budget. In response, the Liberals turned to (what they believed to be) the widespread unpopularity of the Lords to make reducing the power of the Lords an important issue of the January 1910 general election. [ 12 ]
The Liberals returned in a hung parliament after the election: [ 13 ] The Liberals formed a minority government with the support of the Labour and Irish nationalist MPs. The Lords subsequently accepted the Budget when the land tax proposal was dropped. However, as a result of the dispute over the Budget, the new government introduced resolutions (that would later form the Parliament Bill) to limit the power of the Lords. [ 14 ] The Prime Minister, Herbert Henry Asquith. asked Edward VII to create sufficient new Liberal peers to pass the Bill if the Lords rejected it. The King assented, provided that Asquith went back to the polls to obtain an explicit mandate for the constitutional change.
The Lords voted this 1910 Parliament Bill down, so Asquith called a second general election in December 1910. and again formed a minority government. Edward VII had died in May 1910, but George V agreed that, if necessary, he would create hundreds of new Liberal peers to neutralise the Conservative majority in the Lords. [ 15 ] The Conservative Lords then backed down, and on 10 August 1911, the House of Lords passed the Parliament Act 1911 by a narrow 131–114 vote. [ 16 ]
In his War Memoirs. Lloyd George said of this time that "the partisan warfare that raged around these topics was so fierce that by 1913, this country was brought to the verge of civil war." [ 17 ]Limitations
While the Liberal reforms were one of Britain's most ambitious welfare reform programmes, there were several limitations to the reforms they passed. Free school meals were not compulsory. Pensions were refused to those who had not been in work most of their life and life expectancy at this time was only 55 so many people never lived long enough to receive a pension. The labour exchange programme often managed to find people only part-time casual work. The poor had to pay National Insurance Contributions out of their wages and the 7s 6d was not enough to live on. Unemployment and sickness pay also only lasted for a limited time. Free medical care was available to only a wage-earner, not the wife or children or grandparents and other relatives. [ 18 ]Contemporary criticism
The Liberal reforms received criticism from those who saw this level of government action to mitigate social evils as interfering with market forces and thus being antithetical to the operations of a free market. One political cartoon of the time criticised the reforms as socialist in nature. [ 19 ] The cost of the reforms was also criticised and there were also critics who suggested that the reforms would not work in practise. [ 20 ]
There were "classical" liberals who opposed these reforms; this includes Harold Cox. elected as a Liberal in 1906, was almost alone among Liberal MPs in his opposition. He considered them to be "eroding freedom" and "undermining individual responsibility". He lost his seat to a Conservative in January 1910. [ 21 ] The Liberal journalist and editor of The Economist (1907-1916), F. W. Hirst. also opposed the reforms and the welfare state in general. [ 22 ]
Some workers objected to paying 7d per week to the National Insurance contributions. [ 23 ] The chant "Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief" was chanted at Lloyd George by workers and referred to the suggestion that Welshman Lloyd George was taking their wages away from them. [ 18 ] However, Lloyd George responded with his famous phrase "Nine pence for four pence" which referenced to that fact that employers and the government were topping up the workers' contributions. [ 24 ]Legislation
From 1911 MPs were given a salary of £400 per annum, meaning that it was much easier for working class people to stand for election. [ 5 ]References Further reading