Tola Obembe L6CMT
The Old Poor Law attacked: why was change necessary?
What were the pressures for change of the Old Poor Law
The ending of the wars with France (1793-1815) led to greater demands for poor relief.
The harvests of 1813 and 1814 were good in England and on the continent. The ending of the blockade meant that cheap foreign core could be imported again from Europe which forced English Farmers to keep their prices low. Many went bankrupt as they had to pay taxes and an increasing poor rate. Those who employed were pushed to pauperism as employers had to reduce wages. The Poor Law was close to collapse.
In 1815 the government persuaded by Parliament tried to improve the situation by introducing Corn Laws to protect British farmers. Corn Laws would not allow the import of foreign corn until British corn reached 80 shillings per quarter. This was suppose to hold the price of corn and bread steady as well as keep wages stable.
However people resented the Corn Laws as they believed it kept the price of bread artificial high. There riots and outbreaks of violence all over the country.
Post-war distress meant that more people than ever before claimed relief and began to regard relief as a right. Problems experience by returning soldiers and sailors, appalling weather and poor harvests resulted in the expenditure on poor relief reaching an unimaginable 8 million between 1817-19.
In the midst of all this, the 1817 Report of the Select Committee on the Poor Laws comprehensively condemned the evils of the Poor Law as being themselves the creators of poverty.
The impact of the increasing cost of providing poor relief
The money parishes used for looking after their own poor was raised by a rate on poverty, and was...