How successful were the Liberal reforms?



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How successful were the Liberal reforms?

The Liberal reforms were:




The Liberal reforms were:






  • The Liberals had no overall plan for social reform, therefore the reforms were patchy.

  • Many of the working classes thought that the Liberal reforms were ‘middle-class interference’ (e.g. NI).

  • Big problems, such as inadequate housing, healthcare for all and education for all had not been dealt with.

  • Most of the Liberal reforms were selective and not universal.

  • Only extreme poverty had been addressed.

  • The Poor Law and workhouses still existed.

  • Many of the Liberal reforms were voluntary (e.g. school meals until 1914) and not compulsory.

  • Benefit levels were ungenerous (e.g. pensions and NI)

  • The Liberals did not manage to ‘fight off’ the Labour Party. The idea of ‘social reform as an antidote to socialism’ did not work, as this was the last Liberal Government.




    • The Liberal reforms were radical in a political climate that had only just begun to move away from laissez-faire and towards and interventionist approach.

    • Pensions and National Insurance for sickness and unemployment are fundamental parts of a modern welfare state and were introduced for the first time.

    • They laid the foundations of a welfare state.

    • The idea of the ‘deserving poor’ became more widely accepted.

    • The Liberals taxed the better-off to pay for reforms to help the poor.

    • The Liberals attempted to improve the lives of workers (hours, wages, insurance).

    • They did improve the lives of the young, old, sick, unemployed and low-paid, albeit in a limited manner.

    • The Conservative House of Lords regularly opposed the Liberals’ reforms.

    • The Liberals had many other distractions – e.g. naval arms race, Suffragettes.

    • The Liberals planned further reforms, but the First World War intervened.




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