How successful were the Liberal social reforms in reducing poverty in the UK? (24)
After two unsuccessful electoral campaigns in the late 19th century and early 20th century, numerous splits in the party after William Gladstone's retirement, and the growing awareness of the issue of poverty within the UK, key figures within the Liberal party realised a change in the direction of Liberalism was required. They pushed for 'New Liberalism', a more modern form of Liberalism that stressed numerous key fundamental values, one of which was that intervention by the state was key in establishing a minimum quality of life for people within the country. Thus from their electoral triumph in 1906, and especially from 1908 onwards, the Liberal government passed a series of social and welfare reforms in an attempt to raise the quality of living standards within the UK. The Liberals based these reforms on three main groups within society, the elderly, the young, and the unemployed. This essay will explore several of the reforms the Liberal government introduced including the National Insurance act, the old age pensions act, a selection of educational acts, as well as acts regarding employment issues; assessing the aims of the acts and arguing how successful they actually proved to be in reducing the issue of poverty in the UK.
One of the most successful Liberal social reforms was the 1908 Old Age Pensions Act, an act which provided a pension of five shillings a week for a single person and 7 shillings and 6 pence for a married couple. This was a scheme that was 'non contributory', meaning the money was paid out of general taxation and not by contributions from the recipients, this in turn allowed those receiving the act to benefit even more from it. In addition to this, the act also ensured that pensions were available to collect from local Post Offices and not through the poor law, enabling those who previously felt ashamed about receiving their pensions to happily...
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