The Elizabethan Poor Law

1939 Words8 Pages
This paper will investigate and attempt to explain the philosophies that underpinned the provision of the poor relief in the 19th century by examining the further development of the Elizabethan Poor Law of 1601 to the re-established New Poor Law Act of 1864. This essay will then attempt to establish both comparisons and contrasts with such philosophies with that of our contemporary welfare provision. Then this task will present how the ideas and philosophies of the older poor laws are reinforced in today’s modern welfare state, and through more recent government acts how our social welfare structure is still influenced by such values.
In the late fifteenth century assistance for the poor, usually referred to as ‘relief’, was being provided
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This system raised a number of problems, of which two were the subject of particular concern. The first related to determining who was eligible for relief by a particular parish. The second problem of significance was that of distinguishing who was truly ‘impotent’ (one of the ‘deserving poor’) and suitable to be relieved (Millar, 2012). In order to determine who was eligible to receive relief from a certain parish The Settlement Act 1662 was introduced. This Act was a complex system of rules brought into play in order to determine the parish of legal settlement of any individual, and this parish was the one responsible for providing any relief under the poor law (Millar,2012). Apart from those who applied for and were refused relief because not considered needy enough, there was still an outburst of with the rogue or vagrant. These were people who, although considered to be capable of working, chose not to do so. Vagrants were those who moved from village to village attempting to earn a living by begging, fortune telling and selling goods such as ribbons and laces. Vagrancy worried the legislators as they disliked the thought of people being idle and travelling from place to place and they imagined the vagrants as a possible threat to disorder. Magistrates were authorized to punish vagrants, if they thought this appropriate, by such harsh means as whipping and branding. Once…show more content…
Any developments or changes introduced have revolved around creating incentives to take up work and removing the deterrents around employment. Changes to existing programmes or the implementation of new ones, at times often lack consideration for the overall objectives of the social welfare system as they are sometimes a result of the reactions of several pressure groups. Programmes such as back to work allowance and back to education allowance have been successful and have helped a selected few back into employment. In spite of these improvements, the government still have yet to remove the barriers to people who receive social assistance payments that will enable him/her to return to work, which in turn may lead them to become socially excluded or fall into poverty. This could be seen as a step back from the Poor Law policy as by removing the outdoor relief this encouraged independency by motivating one to seek employment and it discouraged dependency on the
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