The Aims and Principles of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act Essay

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The Aims and Principles of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act

In the decades prior to the national reform of the Poor Law in 1834, the characterisations of the administration were of variety rather than uniformity. The social and economic changes at this time produced many problems for those that were responsible for the social welfare. Many areas throughout the country though found solutions to this problem within the legal frame-work of the Elizabethan Poor Law of 1597-1601.

In the initial stages the amendment act was set up to reduce the amount of poor rates that were being paid. In the first ten years of the amendment act the amount of relief being paid was reduced to a national average of
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The way to stop this from happening was to reduce the fifteen thousand parishes into six hundred Poor Law unions. There was a great willingness to keep the poor in one place and so by 1843 there was one hundred and ninety seven thousand one hundred and seventy nine poor incarcerated into the workhouses. The workhouses were often described as bastilles.

"I do not agree with those who say that every man must look after himself, and that intervention by the state, will be fatal to his self-reliance, his foresight and his thrift…. It is a mistake to suppose that thrift is caused only by fear; it springs from hope as well as fear. Where there is no hope, be sure there will be no thrift". (Winston Churchill, Liberalism and the Social Problems, 1909, p. 209).

Many administrators were outraged at the idea of Central Government becoming involved in the Amendment Act because as far as they were concerned the old system was more than sufficient for the needs of the poor. The Poor Law Guardians then set about obstructing the Poor Law Amendment Act, as they thought it was an unnecessary addition to the current act. The worst of the activities to block this new act was in Huddersfield in the West Riding of Yorkshire. (As was).

The Amendment Act was supposed to help the poor but instead all it did was alienate those
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