The Attlee government, 1945-51

  • Created by: Emily_O
  • Created on: 28-03-16 14:20

The Attlee government, 1945-51


  • Free medical care was available to everyone for the first time ever
  • The NHS greatly improved the health of the nation with a fall in diseases like tuberculosis and diphtheria and a decline in infant deaths
  • In the first year of the NHS 8.5 million people received dental treatment and 5.25 million pairs of glasses were provided
  • There was full employment by 1950
  • More working class children took the 11 plus
  • All pupils would move into a form of secondary education until the age of 15
  • There was an increase in university education and more grants were provided for those whose parents couldn't afford to put them through university
  • Workers in nationalised industries received sick pay, pensions and unemployment benefits for the first time
  • The 1946 New Towns Act provided government money to set up new towns close to major cities; 12 were planned in total
  • People moved from overcrowded cities to new towns
  • Industry recovered quickly after the war due to Marshall Aid
  • The economy recovered somewhat in very difficult economic conditions


  • The NHS was expensive to run (it cost £400 million in its first year)
  • In 1951 charges were introduced for glasses and a charge for all prescriptions and dental treatment was introduced
  • Many Labour politicians opposed the NHS because they believed it didn't go far enough, they wanted to nationalise all hospitals and make doctors salaried civil servants
  • In the first five years no new hospitals were built; existing ones had to be patched up and adapted
  • Middle class children were more likely to do better in the 11 plus than working class children
  • The government didn't put enough money into the modernisation of industries that had been nationalised
  • The government didn't know enough about how to run large industries so nationalisation could be costly
  • The coal industry suffered because of underinvestment and shortages of fuel were blamed on the nationalisation of the National Coal Board
  • The left felt that Attlee's government hadn't been socialist enough
  • Rents charged in the new council houses were too expensive for the lowest paid workers
  • Planning was bad in places; not enough garages were built and there were too few parking spaces


There were shortages of equipment, accomodation and teachers which meant that only the bare minimum of the Butler Act was achieved; progress didn't really start until the 1950sOnly 806,000 houses were built between 1945 and 1950Coal production eventually increased but there was always a shortage"A modest man with much to be modest about" - Winston Churchill"An empty taxi pulled up at the House of Commons and Clement Attlee got out" - Winston Churchill"On the Richter scale for oratory the needle scarcely flickered" - Peter Hennessy


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