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Flashcards in social policy in 19th century england Deck (17)
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1

old poor laws (16th- 19th century)

-poorhouses / ‘indoor relief’
-late 18th century: war, famine, price increases
-Speenhamland system:‘outdoor relief’
-first cash benefit paid by the state to the poor
-a supplement to wages
-based on an assessment of needs: the price of bread and numbers in family

2

Reactions to the spread of the Speenhamland system

-Speenhamland didn’t go far enough to meet the needs of the working poor
-Speenhamland made workers ‘lazy and demoralised’
-Speenhamland was ‘too expensive and inefficient’

3

3 competing ‘discourses of welfare’ in early 19th century Britain

Radicalism – egalitarian, focus on political institutions of the state, motivated by social justice

Evangelicalism – religious, conservative, focus on moral habits of the poor, motivated by humanitarian concern

Utilitarianism – ‘scientific progress’ to maximise utility; focus on machinery of government, motivated by a drive for ‘efficiency’.

4

Radicalism

Universal rights
Equality and social justice
Chapter 5: blueprint for a ‘welfare state’

5

Evangelicalism and philanthropy

Evangelicals such as Hannah More (1790s Bath)
Philanthropic mission
Key idea: ‘Army of Christ’
The problem:
disordered families
The solution:
philanthropy through casework
The aim:
remoralization of the poor

6

The origins of social work

Introduced 1857 by the Bible and Domestic Female Mission
Developed by the Charity Organisation Society
Casework approach
Intended to separate the ‘deserving’ from the ‘undeserving’ poor

7

Utilitarianism

Classical liberal economics
You can only know what people want/need from the choices they make
Actions can only be judged by their consequences
The best moral actions are those that produce the maximum happiness (utility) for the greatest number
The modern prison system (Jeremy Bentham)
“a mill to grind rogues honest and idle men industrious”
i.e. to ‘nudge’ people into making the right moral choices

8

What is the speenhamland system

This level varied according to the number of children and the price of bread
sliding-scale of wage supplements in order to mitigate the worst effects of rural poverty.
This level varied according to the number of children and the price of bread.

9

Growth of the Speenhamland system 1790s-1820s

Rising cost of outdoor relief:
1785: £2m 1818 : £8m
and costs of administering the system

Establishment concern about fraud/abuse of the system of outdoor relief:
“Destructive to the morals of the most numerous class and to the welfare of all”
Royal Commission on the Poor Laws and the Relief of Distress (1832)

10

New Poor Law (1834)

attempted to fundamentally change the poverty relief system
The Act was intended to curb the cost of poor relief, and address abuses of the old system,
Attack on outdoor relief
New large workhouses covering much larger areas and a union of parishes
Poor Law Unions, controlled by Boards of Guardians, funded by rates (taxes) paid by men with property
with only a few Radicals (such as William Cobbett) voting against.

11

When did poor law come in?

1834

12

The workhouse system

The principle of ‘less eligibility’
“The position of the pauper should not be made nearly or apparently so eligible as that of the independent labourer of the lowest class”
(Poor Law Commission 1832)
The classification of paupers
Aged paupers / Infirm paupers / Able-bodied paupers
separate provision for each group within the workhouse

13

The workhouse in practice

Most poor relief now ‘indoor’, not ‘outdoor’
15% of relief continued as ‘outdoor relief’ – to the ‘deserving poor’
Use of workhouse for the next 100 years
Workhouse population became increasingly aged.

14

3 competing ‘ideologies of welfare’ in early 19th century Britain

Evangelicalism – conservative, focus on moral habits of the poor, motivated by humanitarian concern

Radicalism – egalitarian, focus on political institutions of the state, motivated by social justice

Utilitarianism – ‘scientific progress’ to maximise utility; focus on machinery of government, motivated by ‘efficiency’.

15

Then (1780's- 1830's)

Growing numbers of dispossessed wage labourers not paid enough to live on
Speenhamland – the invention of benefits
Reactions to Speenhamland system
Harsher new system – the workhouse

16

now (2000's)

Growing numbers of the ‘working poor’ – low paid, insecure workers
Large and complex benefits system
Calls for a crackdown on fraud, abuse and ‘worklessness’
Benefit sanctions and cuts

17

Problems for capitalism

Problems of legitimacy: significant levels of unmet need, depending on level and distribution of wages leading to tensions between:
the promise of equality, rights and social justice in the idea of citizenship
the denial of equality, rights and social justice in capitalist societies
Problems of reproduction – is the labour force fit enough ?