The First English Poor Law Legislation

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16th century - The first English Poor Law legislation. According to Spicker (2014) the English Poor Laws were a system of poor relief which existed until the emergence of the modern welfare state after the Second World War. These laws purpose was provision for 'setting the poor on work '. The parish was the basic unit of administration. People were tied to particular locations. If they tried to get relief outside the parish of their birth they could be ‘removed’ which means not given relief or transported to another parish. The Poor Laws relief did not generally include accommodation but in 17th century first few workhouses were established. In Scotland they were called ‘houses of correction’. Workhouse is ‘a building where very poor people in Britain used to work, in the past, in exchange for food and shelter’ (Cambridge Dictionaries Online, 2015, available online at, retrieved on 07 June 2015). 19th century - The increase of poor and working class population due to mass industrialisation and capitalism leaded to development of more central and state-controlled but still basic welfare system. 1834 - The Poor Law Amendment Act sets up a national Poor Law Commission which was a start point to state education and health care system. 1839-1840 - The Poor Law Commission enquiry identified disease as a major cause of ‘pauperism’. 1842 - The Poor Law Commission report identifying sanitation as a principal issue for
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