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The Winding Road to the Welfare State$
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George R. Boyer

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691178738

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691178738.001.0001

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Poor Relief, Charity, and Self-Help in Crisis Times, 1834–69

Poor Relief, Charity, and Self-Help in Crisis Times, 1834–69

(p.37) 2 Poor Relief, Charity, and Self-Help in Crisis Times, 1834–69
The Winding Road to the Welfare State

George R. Boyer

Princeton University Press

This chapter traces the roles played by the Poor Law, charity, and self-help from 1834 to 1870. Workers responded to the reduced availability of outdoor relief after 1834 by increasing their saving and joining friendly societies, but few were able to save more than a small amount, which was exhausted by spells of unemployment or sickness lasting more than a few weeks. As a result, many households continued to apply for poor relief during downturns, and urban Poor Law unions continued to provide outdoor relief to the unemployed despite pressure not to from the central administration. Unions proved unable to cope financially with the sharp increases in demand for relief during crises, and by the 1860s many were convinced that the system required a radical restructuring.

Keywords:   Poor Law, charity, self-help, workers, outdoor relief, friendly societies, unemployment, sickness, poor relief, unions

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