(a) The Elizabethan Poor Law
The legal relief of poverty was first introduced after the demise of compulsory charity that followed the reformation. There were initial parish registers of the poor in 1552 and compulsory fund raising, through to 1601 with the advent of the Elizabethan Poor Law (43 Eliz I Cap. 2). This law oversaw the levying of taxes for the distribution of money and food to the poor but there was a heavy emphasis on hierarchy and charity as the premise for relief. The notion of a long term solution would have affected the fabric of social distinction, and as class was integral to the ideology of the time, long term solutions for the poor beyond 'handouts' were never conceived of. Despite this, the system was humane as the homeless and infirm were provided with 'indoor relief' in custom built accommodations and the 'outdoor relief' was made available to those in their own homes. This ideology continued throughout a number of adaptations to the act, which included the Settlement Act 1662, the Gilbert's Act 1782 and the Speenhamland System of 1795.
(b) From 1834 to the Welfare State - a changing Britain
The Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 introduced a centralised system of administration of funds and benefits for the poor, and, more notoriously, the workhouse. It was the ideology of the new law that no relief would be made available to those not living inside these workhouses (Poor Law Amendment Act 1834, XXVI). However, the face of Britain was changing and more and more reforms were being brought in to improve the state of public health and education. By the beginning of the 20th century, the Liberal Democrats had set in motion the foundations of the modern welfare state with new laws that were outside the poor law. These included free school meals under the Education Act 1907 and the National Insurance Act 1911. Piecemeal external poor law Acts, designed to deal with specific issues, eventually