problem of poverty before and after the welfare state

The problem of poverty before and after the welfare state


Required reading

Glennerster, H. (2000) British Social Policy Since 1945, Second Edition, Oxford, Wiley/Blackwell, Ch 3 ‘The Right to Health, Knowledge, Food, Shelter and Work 1945-1951’, pp40-64           


Worth, J. (2008) Call the Midwife, A true story of the East End in the 1950s, London, Phoenix, Chs‘Rosie’ and ‘The Workhouse’ pp221-236 (e-offprint)


NB – This book has been televised as a drama series on BBC1; it is currently running on Sunday nights at 8 pm (you can view clips here

Also read MarjieBloy’s summaries at:



Required preparation – to be submitted

  1. What were the main principles and characteristics of state action in relation to poverty prior to the 1834 Act?200 words

  1. What were the aims of the ‘new poor law’ and how did they differ from previous legislation?200

  1. Summarise the reasons why, in the post war period, the impetus for state involvement in the areas of health, education, housing and social services was so strong.150

  1. Consider the experience of Mrs. Jenkins in Jennifer Worth’s description of the circumstances leading her to enter the workhouse and what it was like to be an inmate. Make a note ofthe key events that led to her destitution. Using a set of bullet points, summarise how Mrs Jenkins’ experience would differif she were alive today (less than 80 years later) had a similar set of events/circumstances befallen her.200
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