Debates About Poverty & Concerns About National Efficiency (Social Issues 1900-1918) (Britain 1900-1951)

  • Created by: oanderton
  • Created on: 26-08-20 10:43

Debates About Poverty

  • Debate centred on how to deal with it
  • Lead to introduction of the Poor Law from 1905-1909
  • Poverty was seen a moral issue – widespread availability of private charities for deserving cases
  • Reports of Booth & Rowntree, Galt's photographs.
    • Booth = Investegated poverty in London
      • Produced coloured maps to detail poverty rates.
      • Concluded 35% of Londoners lived below poverty line.
    • Rowntree = Out of 46,000 people in York, 20,000 (over half) of people lived in poverty.
      • People shocked that a Cathederal city like York had such severe poverty.
      • Helped people understand poverty was far more widespread than just London, as many had believed.
  • Helen Bosanquet thought state aid would undermine existing charities and the self-reliance of the poor, instead increasing poverty
  • Fabians society and Beatrice Webb felt it was the job of the state to provide national minimum standards à very influential on later policy 
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Concerns About National Efficiency

  • Concerns Britain was falling behind other nations
    • Growth of European industry threatened Britain
      • Germany
  • Disaster of the Boer War
    • Poverty = caused problems with army recruitment.
      • Of 11,000 men in Manchester offering war service, 8,000 were physically unfit to carry a rifle.
  • Poor health and urban problems weakened the racial strength and endangered the empire
  • Britain needed a moral awakening and “blood works” needed to be improved through eugenics and controls on immigration
  • Appealed to social reformers, some liberals and conservative supporters of empire so cut across the party lines.
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Significance of these debates & concerns

  • Brought greater awareness to the problems of poverty
  • It become important for governments to be seen dealing with them
  • Acted as a spur to government measures
  • Meant liberal reforms were accompanied by:
    • An expansion of the navy
    • Creation of new territorial army
    • Changes to armed forces 
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