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Welfare State in Britain

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The history of the welfare state in Britain began around 1940-1950 and this period marked a point in their history. Professor Jeremy Black (2011) recorded in BBC that “Britain [during the period] quickly relinquished its status as the world's largest imperial power.”

Poor Law (1834)

The British Prime Minister, Earl Grey, set up the Poor Law in 1833. The law stated that “no able-bodied person was to receive money or other help from the Poor Law authorities except in a workhouse” (Spartacus International). And in the workhouses, the poor had to work hard in return for the care they received (The National Archives). The law was abolished later in 1948 due to the abuses that occurred (Owston, 2009). The development of the Poor Law as part of the welfare state of Britain became significant to their history because it has altered and made a great impact regarding the social improvement of the country.

The Liberal Reforms (1906-1914)

As recorded in BBC, the Liberal government in 1906-1914, reformed the welfare services in the country. The reform included the Education (Provision of Meals) Act 1906, Education (Administrative Provisions) Act 1907, Children’s Act 1909, Old Age Pension Act 1908, National Insurance Act Part 1 (Health) 1911, Labour Exchanges Act 1909, National Insurance Act Part 2 (Unemployment) 1911, The Workmen's Compensation Act 1906, The Coal Mines Act 1908, The Trade Boards Act 1909 and The Shops Act 1911. The reforms became a significant milestone in the history of Britain because it ended the principles of laissez-faire and benefited the modern welfare provision.

Public Health Act (1848-1875)

The Public Health Act of 1875 compelled that local authorities secure sewage disposal, adequate water supply and drainage. Removal of burials, nuisances, notification of infectious diseases, and destruction of contaminated food were regulated. “For the first time this Act ensured an effective system of public health throughout the country. It has been described as the single most important Act of Parliament of the century” (Scaife, 2004, p. 38). This development in the history of Britain became significant particularly to the health of the people. It built health awareness to everyone.

The Labour Party (1945-1951)

The Labour party, led by Clement Atlee, came to power in 1945 and continued to make reforms until 1951. The reforms included an enlarged system of social services which included the nationalization of major industries and public utilities and the establishment of the National Health Service (Wikipedia). These changes made significance to the British Welfare State since they made a great impact in its development.

Beveridge Report

William Beveridge published his report in 1942 and recommended that the government should “find ways of fighting the five Giant Evils of Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness” (William Beveridge). His report influenced the prime minister Clement Atlee who established the National Health Service in 1948 and a national system of benefits to provide social security. His report became significant as it inspire and lead the leaders to make a move regarding the social welfare system of the British state.

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