Welfare State British Term Paper

Total Length: 870 words ( 3 double-spaced pages)

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Welfare State in Britain had its beginnings in 1598 when Elizabeth I's ninth parliament established by Elizabethan poor-law system (Bruce, 1966). According to Bruce, the "Acte for the Releife of the Poore" of 1598 consolidated and extended laws passed earlier in Elizabeth's reign. Essentially, these laws had originated in 1536, during the time of her father's reign, and were focused on raising local taxes as well as appointing overseers of the poor in every parish for the purpose of:

setting to work of the children of all such whose parents shall not be thought able to keep and maintain their children," together with "all such persons, married or unmarried, as, having no means to maintain them, use no ordinary and daily trade of life to get their living by";

providing a convenient stock of materials "to set the poor on work";

the necessary relief of the lame, impotent, old, blind and such other being poor and not able to work";

the putting out of children to be apprentices" (Bruce, 1966; p. 20).

As explained by Bruce (1966), while various amendments to these laws occurred over the years, the Elizabethan poor laws remained the law of England until 1948. A key element associated with the early welfare state was the "means test" which was established to insure that only those who absolutely could not care for themselves would be helped.
A significant change in the laws was enacted with the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, which set the poor law on its nineteenth-century footing. During the late 1800s, with the emergence of the London Charity Organisation Society (COS), efforts were directed towards the management of manage uncontrolled almsgiving. The new "overseers of the poor" were now known as the "friendly visitors" who sought to bring about moral and practical improvement among the "deserving" working class. As explained by Payne (1997), local COS office were implemented, services in charity hospitals developed, "police courts" and "prison gate" missions, associated with temperance movements seeking to reform minor offenders came into being.

As explained by Payne (1997), the undeserving poor, who were largely the majority of the poor of that time period, were dealt with by the oppressive Poor Law, requiring people to receive social security provision by living in workhouses. Except under rare circumstances, most of those who lived in workhouses were sick, elderly, or orphaned. Consequently, the workhouses became the new repositories of health, general welfare, and child care, with some provision later in the 20th century of supportive and creative social work services. Separate asylums for the mentally disordered emerged during the late 1930s….....

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