Did the British Liberal Government of 1906-14 create the early Welfare State?

Essay by orangemuffHigh School, 12th gradeA-, January 2004

download word file, 3 pages 5.0

Downloaded 47 times

In January 1906 the Liberals came to power after winning the general election by a massive majority over the Tories. Once in power they were to set about on creating the basic foundations for the begininning of a welfare state. Social reforms would begin to be made, within which the government would take up more responsibilty, no longer adopting the 'laissez-faire' attitude. These reforms were introduced in order to improve living standards and to help aide ever worsening poverty.

Before the introduction of the social reforms there was only one other mean of financial aide which was the 'Poor Law'. This was a simple collection to help aide the poor. Alternatively the workhouse was available which was undesirable due to the horrific and inhumane surroundings within. The living conditions for the unemployed was harsh to say the least. Those who entered it lost any respect and pride they previously held as this was the last resort to which people could turn to for work and money.

National efficiency was also effected. Poverty was bad for the economy, as appropriate workforces were unable to be attained due to illness. Increase in competition from international rivals such as Germany and America meant that if Britain was going to survive economically then they would have to keep up by attaining good working conditions. The Labour Party was also on a rise during this time which began to lead to an increase in popularity and support from the working class voters. Therefore the Liberal Party, in order to attract votes towards them had to undergo radical changes by changing from 'Old Liberalist' to 'New Liberal' views and ideas.

The works of Charles Booth and Seebohm Rowntree were able to gain attention within the eyes of the government as to how poverty stricken the country...