Were the Liberal Social Reforms Successful?

In: Historical Events

Submitted By katebirkett48
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How successful were the social reforms introduced by the Liberal’s in years 1906 to 1914 in improving the lives of the British people?
Britain in the early 1900s faced a multitude of problems from poverty. Reports from Booth and Rowntree highlighted the extent of the problem so when the liberals came to power in 1906, they embarked on a series of wide-ranging welfare reforms that were designed to lift the most vulnerable members of society – the sick and infirm, children and the elderly – out of poverty. This was a massive change from the previous stance of “laissez faire” to direct government intervention. However, the success of the reforms and the impact they had on the problems that plagued Britain was questionable.
Some historians have argued they were very successful. For example the liberals were able to provide more support than ever before to impoverished children. They passed the Education Act (Provision of school meals) in 1906 and the Education Act (Medical Inspection) in 1907. These Acts provided services to needy and vulnerable children for the first time ever. By 1914, a total of 14 million free school meals were being provided by LEAs and three quarters of LEAs were providing medical inspections. These reforms were designed to tackle the issue of disease as a result of poverty and to stop children being too hungry to learn. However there were drawbacks, in many cases nothing could be done to alleviate the problems identified such as the need for glasses for children with poor eyesight. Another issue with these reforms was the fact they were permissive not compulsory and even when inspections were done they were only very cursory and not a thorough check. Yet in 1914 the government made it compulsory for authorities to provide these meals. Another Act aiming to improve the lives of the poor and young was the Children’s Act of 1908. Children were…...

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