How Effectivley Did the Liberal Government Deal with the Problem of Poverty Between 1906 and 1914

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How effectively did the liberal government deal with the problem of poverty between 1906 and 1914? Between 1906 and 1914 the liberal democrats where in power, at this time it was becoming apparent that poverty was a big problem in Britain and reports from two men, Charles Booth and Seebolm Rowntree who had interests in social reform and the poorest off people of Britain, showed that many people in Britain where living below the poverty line. The liberals realised that in order to stay in power they had to make social changes and leave behind old laissez faire liberal ideas. Because of the level of poverty many families lived in bad housing had a poor diet and poor health. The Liberal government began a series of reforms aimed at helping the impoverished people of Britain. This essay will discuss how effective the measures taken by the liberals where in combating the problem of poverty in Britain. In 1906 the liberals began their welfare reforms with the provision of free school meals act which was to be paid by property tax. This act was targeted at children who, after education becoming compulsory, where revealed to be suffering from many ailments. At this time there was also worry that the British people where suffering from a physical decline. The free meals, it was hoped, would improve the health of these children and remove health problems such as rickets. A good meal every day was a significant improvement to a malnourished child but the issue of how effective the scheme was as a whole is debatable. Though the meals where available the scheme was put in the control of local authorities many of whom were slow to act and, to begin with, only 150,000 children where receiving a free school meal. This number did rise. However, information available from 1912 shows that over half of the local authorities in England and Wales had still not set up a free meals service. Although the free school meals where an effective means of improving children’s health as it was not available to all children it could not have been wholly effective. Another act in 1907 was passed in order to improve the medical health of children. This was the Administrative Provisions Act which involved medical inspectors going into schools to test the health of children and to identify any treatments that the children needed. This act revealed that many children where suffering from health problems because their family could not afford expensive doctors bills. The ill health that the inspectors found, such as 9% of the children inspected suffered from rickets as evidence by T Ferguson Scottish social welfare 1864-1914, put pressure on the government to provide healthcare and the first school clinics where set up. This act did tackle some of the health problems but because it was not hugely popular with many members of the government, who did not believe that treatments could be afforded at this time, it did not receive the amount of funding that, was needed to make it an effective act. Also many of the treatments did require a contribution from the child’s family and as some of the families could not finance this the treatments where often only temporary and the health of the children was only improved for a short time. From this evidence we can conclude that this healthcare did not solve all the health problems facing children at this time. Following from The Administrative Provisions Act, The Children’s Act of 1908 was passed in order to prevent parental cruelty and neglect toward children, as well as protecting children from other difficulties including smoking, drinking and children being sentenced to adult prisons. This act made it a criminal offence to neglect a child and this discouraged cruelty by parents. However, the effectiveness of this act was limited as children did not have the ability to voice the cruelty of their parents, and many children were scared and did not come forward with their problems. Other parts of the act included children...
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