Social Policy - Laws relating to poverty
We are now going to look at some of the social polices and laws relating to poverty
We need to start with an historical view and look at the ways that poverty was treated in the past in order to be able to understand the way that we view poverty and the poor today
Before the introduction of the welfare state, there had been a variety of forms of welfare provision, dating back a far as 1601, when the government introduced what we might nlow call 'a minimun wage'.
In 1834 the Poor Law Amendment Act introduced the workhouse system which meant that the poor and the old had to go and live in workhouses if they were destitute, In order to ensure that people did not 'abuse the system', the conditions inside the workhouses were deliberately made worse than the conditions outside. As the life of the poor was quite horrific by modern standards, you can imagine what life was like inside these workhouses.
The Poor Law Commission of 1834 emphasised two principles:
- less eligibility: the position of the pauper must be 'less eligible' than that of the labourer
This meant that the poor must not receive or have a standard of living that was of the same level or above that of the poorest person in work. This principle can be traced through social policy till the present day
- the workhouse test: no relief outside the workhouse.
No relief in the form of money, food or shelter was to be given to anybody outside of the workhouse. This effectively meant that people had to go and live within the workhouse. Families were separated, children were separated from their parents and males and females were in separate parts of the workhouse.