This assignment will analyze the transformation of public welfare insurance policy that was proven and implemented during the 19th and early on 20th centuries to handle the situation of poverty and also to assist ‘the poor’ at the same time when rapid industrialisation struck Britain. These policies have been developed throughout this period using a mixture of both state and charitable sector intervention that extended and contracted at several levels within both sectors at differing times.

The assignment will be structured to incorporate the next distinct yet associated elements: Initially, I am going to make clear what relief system/insurance plan was in location to address rural and urban poverty leading up to the early the main 19th century. Then, I’ll go on to create the environmental context regarding how the speedy industrialisation that happened in Britain could have got contributed towards exacerbating the poverty becoming experienced by regional communities and individuals during the early 19th hundred years.

I will then continue to focus on those plans and interventions that were presented and/or endorsed by the status to specifically address poverty and help ‘the poor’; whilst taking into consideration in parallel, the differing perceptions of accomplishment and failing that surfaced during the implementation of these policies spanning a timeline of the 1800 – 1939 period. A fundamental element of this includes the differential categorisations and opinions on poverty that existed and subsequently progressed during this time period.

Main body

From the intro of the Elizabethan Poor Regulation Act of 1601, those that were regarded as ‘deserving poor’ received relief from within their parish, which was subsidised by a compulsory poor rate levied on each parish’s land and property owners. This was intended to give native control and responsibility testmyprep for reducing the poverty becoming experienced by the poor, small, infirm or elderly within communities. These ‘deserving poor’ were given that which was termed ‘Outdoor Comfort’ in the form of either monetary repayment or in-kind relief such as for example food, rent or garments which enabled them to remain at home. Those that had been classed as ‘poor impotent persons’ (2002, pg 11) and unable to support themselves, alongside the ready bodied poor who were set to work, were provided with ‘indoor comfort’ within workhouses. This technique continued well into the late 18th century until the introduction of the Gilberts Action which advocated that workhouses should become poorhouses, operate by poor law parish unions, to greatly help only the unwell, the orphaned or the elderly. Joseph Townsend subsequently expressed his disapproval of the approach: and said that "the workhouses function like the figures which we established to scare the birds, till they contain learnt earliest to despise them then to perch after the objects of their terror." (Townsend 1788 cited in Spicker 1984, pg 10) The able-bodied poor could still claim outdoor relief but will be expected to find employment beyond the union workhouse, consequently poverty and poor alleviation problems became compounded further during a time of agricultural melancholy when wages were low and unemployment and inhabitants amounts were on the rise.

By the early section of the 19th century the poor relief program was under significant strain as poor rates escalated, food rates were larger and the worlds first industrial world was spawned as industrialisation struck Britain. This was to be "a period of rapid industrial advance and unprecedented urban expansion; of main shifts in patterns of occupation (chiefly from agricultural to industrial and program) and of monetary insecurity for most." (Kidd,1999; pg 4)

Technological advancement shifted into rural communities, and the agricultural labourer was substituted with an increase of cost efficient machinery, such as for example horse powered threshing equipment. This designed that agricultural employees and their own families had little choice but to move to the extra industrious towns and urban locations where wages were bigger and there have been more opportunities for do the job within factories, particularly in the textiles, transfer and mining sectors.

In actuality, this optimistic view taken by those seeking to escape the difficulties of the countryside and enhance their standard of living will be confronted with other prohibiting factors and subsequent poverty within the mass operating class neighbourhoods will be harshly realised in various ways. Within the locations people were surviving in cheaply made, overcrowded terraced housing, which possessed inadequate sanitation and few amenities. Within the factories, conditions were simply no better as employees were subject to working unprotected around risky machinery, whilst working extended hours for unduly low wages and acquiring tough punishments for non compliance. Similarly, employers could freely use child labour that they felt aided poor family members by giving their children work from age five years upwards, very much to the detriment of a child’s education which was fated due to no enforced legislation being set up. In addition, there were increasingly cases of poor malnutrition that existed in households which was associated to the expensive prices of food, consequently poor factory personnel could usually only afford to buy rotten items. Taking into account all these factors, "the families of manual personnel were always vulnerable to unemployment, sickness, later years or the death of the breadwinner, which reduced them to pauperism" (Royle, 1997; pg 162)

New Poor Law

As population progress reached an unprecedented level, poor pain relief costs were as well rising as more people were falling into a spiral of poverty and pauperism instead of benefiting from the elevated wages and improved quality lifestyle that optimists of the industrial revolution predicted.

Politicians recognised that the current poor law system of 1601 had a need to undergo considerable reform as there were plainly widespread frustrations on the back of what Malthus argued as offering "encouragement to illegitimacy" (Spicker et al 2007; pg 148) through the provision of spouse and children kid allowance and that outdoor pain relief will "diminish both the power and the will to save among the normal people" (Malthus cited in Kidd 1999; pg 21) inadvertently forcing more persons towards poverty. Malthus subsequently concluded in declaring that ‘dependent poverty should be held disgraceful’ and the poor laws abolished. (Englander 1998; pg 9)

Social reformer and laissez-faire economist Jeremy Bentham argued for a more disciplinary and corrective approach and "believed in the primacy of the free competitive market in the solution of sociable problems". (Englander, 1998, pg 10)

In 1832 in response to the pressures highlighted above a Royal Commission on the Poor Law was appointed, consisting of 9 members and many assistant commissioners which range from economists to sociable reformers electronic.g. Edwin Chadwick. Their remit was to identify the flaws in today’s poor relief system and

make recommendations for a fresh, more cheap model for implementation. In the midst of this review, the 1st policy move against kid labour occurred in the type of the Factory Action of 1833, whereby kids younger than nine were not allowed to work, children weren’t permitted to work at night and the work day of youth under the age of 18 was limited by twelve hours. (INSERT Supply)

After much assessment of fact and statistics with the previous influential concepts portrayed by Malthus and Bentham the brand new Poor Law Article was published in 1834, that concluded the law itself was the cause of poverty. This resulted in the next endorsement of the indegent Law Amendment Work of 1834 that focused on the ethos of "instilling a work discipline" whilst "controlling the expenses of poor alleviation" (Pierson, 2009). To carry out this, the act placed its emphasis on putting the deterrent workhouse at its main with the guiding concept of ‘less eligibility’ which would distinguish between the able-bodied pauper and the independent poor and "automatically weed out the only do the job- shy from the genuinely indigent" (Brundage, 2002; pg 35). Consequently, the pauper would experience poorer circumstances within the workhouse compared to the lowest living benchmarks of an independent labourer. The workhouse would resemble the design and mechanics of a correctional institution, comprising segregation (amongst several classes), uniformity, tedious job, a controlling self-discipline and the smallest amount in food and lodging. This it had been hoped would finally deter the capable bodied from applying for indoor relief towards finding job to survive, whilst concurrently improving the ethical characteristics of the indolent people it housed and encourage their eventual liberation.

The Act as well proposed to abolish all outdoor alleviation, however this truly persisted to provide assistance until the 1840’s as there have been insufficient workhouses built to house the inevitable upsurge in paupers who would not get help outside the house. Another key characteristic that remained was the guardians control of the stringent settlement laws which would help avoid a sizable influx of paupers from the rural villages, consequently keeping charges for the urban taxes payer at a manageable level.

At the start of the Victorian period in 1837 the take on poverty remained as one of self responsibility and character, whereby the average person was considered responsible for his/her own activities and subsequent survival in lifestyle irrespective of the environment they were living in. This judgment gathered momentum as persons continually didn’t or had been reluctant to discover a job, thus leading to the improved dependency on the state and little if any inclination to save money as a means of helping themselves through difficult circumstances and into their old age. This became exacerbated additionally by those who simply ventured down the path of petty criminal offense, sexual immorality, "idleness and insobriety’, which were defects that could be overcome by discipline and brand-new attitudes" (Townsend, 1993; pg 97); and therefore further supported the concepts and establishment of the deterrent workhouse system.

As the 1840’s progressed; the guardians started to reduce the levels of outdoor relief staying distributed to the able bodied poor. People were becoming shamed and significantly aware that to be looked at for relief they would be expected to perform some work jobs with a check out to accessing employment, usually they would be confronted with the harsh reality of experiencing to enter in the workhouse with their families. Subsequently, people began to recognise the emerging stigma mounted on relief and would concentrate their attempts on finding do the job and other means of assistance before succumbing to the "indignities of the indegent Law and the best indignity of a pauper funeral" (Alcock et al, 2008; pg 13). This was similarly echoed by Jeremy Bentham who argued that "people did what was pleasant and wouldn’t normally do that which was unpleasant – to ensure that if people were not to claim pain relief, it needed to be distressing" (Spicker, 2007; pg 148)

At this time around the severe measures and conditions within the workhouse system were receiving a barrage of criticism and opposition from the religious sector and workers unions which led to the review and additional amendments of the Amendment Take action, removing the harshest actions of the workhouses. The Andover workhouse scandal, where circumstances in the Andover Union Workhouse had been found to be inhumane and harmful, prompted a government review and the abolishment of the indegent Law Commission, which was replaced with an unhealthy Law Board.

In 1842 Edwin Chadwick wrote and published a written report made the assertion that sanitation

After the influenza and typhoid epidemics in 1837 and 1838, Edwin Chadwick was asked by the government to carry out a new enquiry into sanitation. His record, The Sanitary Circumstances of the Labouring Population was published in 1842. In the report Chadwick argued that disease was directly related to living circumstances and that there is a desperate need for public health reform.

Over 7,000 copies of the article was published and it helped generate awareness of the necessity for government to take action as a way to protect the lives of people moving into Britain’s towns and towns. Sir Robert Peel and his Conservative administration had been unwilling to aid Chadwick’s suggestions. A pressure group, the fitness of Towns Association, was formed in order to persuade Peel’s government to take action.

However, it had been only following the 1847 Basic Election, when Lord John Russell started to be leader of a new Liberal government, that innovative legislation was introduced. In 1848 Parliament passed a Public Health Work that provided for the forming of a Central Plank of Health. This brand-new body system had powers to build local boards to oversee street cleansing, refuse collection, drinking water supply and sewerage systems

  1. Edwin Chadwick – Sanitation Statement (1842)
  2. Charitable/self help movement – COS (1869)
  3. Slum clearance – freeing up territory for housing developers (1870)
  4. Charles Booth (class division/ cash flow) / Seebohm Rowntree – Sanitation/Environment studies
  5. Physical deterioration/wellness – Boer War – National fitness
  6. Committee on physical deterioration
  7. Settlement Houses – to combine upper course in with poor communities


  • Alcock, C., Daly, G. and Griggs, E. (2008) Introducing Social Policy, 2nd ed., London: Longman
  • Brundage, A. (2002) The English Poor Regulations 1700-1930, Basingstoke: Palgrave
  • Englander, D. (1998) Poverty and Poor Law Reform in 19th Century Britain, 1834-1914 From Chadwick to Booth, Harlow: Longman
  • Kidd, A. (1999) Status, Society and the Poor in Nineteenth-Hundred years England,Basingstoke: Macmillan
  • Royle, E. (1997) Current Britain: A Social Record 1750-1985, 2nd ed., London: Arnold
  • Spicker, P. (1984) Stigma and Sociable Welfare, Kent: Croom Helm
  • Spicker, P., Alvarez Leguizamon, S. and Gordon, D. (2007) Poverty: an international glossary, 2nd ed., London: Zed
  • Townsend, P. (1993) The International Examination of Poverty, London: Harvester Wheatsheaf