Welfare Reforms

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How successful were the welfare reforms in Labour Government 1945-1951?

The New Labour Government came in to power in a ‘Landslide’ election victory. The Government was led by Clement Atlee and introduced reforms. The reforms were in Social Security, Health, Housing, Education and Employment. Under the Social Security reform they introduced the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act 1946, National Insurance Act 1946 and the National Assistance Act 1948. They were a lot of criticism with the social security reform which included, Benefit levels were fixed for 5 years but inflation reduced their value, Benefits were only 19% of the average industrial wage and below subsistence level, many people were forced into applying for National Assistance, the system was a marked improvement but poverty was not eliminated. The Health Reform introduced the NHS act in 1946 but didn’t come into play until 1948. Aneruin Bevan the health minister helped get the act through Parliament. Doctors feared that they would have to give up their private practices. The government allowed the consultants to keep their private practices but only work on a part-time basis. The doctors were also given money for each patient they had in their practice. The NHS provided free medical, dental and optical treatment. The NHS prescriptions rose from 7 to 13.5 million between 1945-1948 because people kept going to the NHS since it was free. The main problem was funding the NHS through tax. In 1950 the NHS was costing £358 million a year and the Government introduced charges for spectacle and dental treatment. Plans for new hospitals and health centres were shelved and Birch said that the NHS was ‘the single greatest achievement in the story of the welfare state’. The Education reform meant that a lot of schools had to be built as 20% had been damaged or destroyed in the war. By 1950, 1176 new schools were built or under construction. This helped with the ‘Baby Boom’, where a lot of people had...
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