BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

20 October 2014
world war one
BBC Schools  Homepage

BBC Homepage
World War I Home
Web Links
Schools Help

Contact Us

Outcomes of the War: Britain
How prepared was Britain for peace?

Many people saw the chaos after the War as the government's fault. What had been done to prevent these problems? The Ministry of Reconstruction was formed by Lloyd George in 1916 with this exact aim in mind. Problems of transport, housing, demobilisation, labour, education, health and child welfare were all to be worked out. But when the Ministry should have been in full swing in June 1919, it was disbanded along with other wartime committees.

Under the Ministry of Reconstruction, the Demobilisation sub-committee had been formed. The plan set up was not based on the demobbing of entire units, but of individuals. Those with a long service record, longest time on the front, or that were in 'pivotal' jobs would be sent home first. 'Pivotal' jobs were in those industries which needed to be in full production to provide jobs for others.

This plan was quickly abandoned in 1919 when soldiers (not in 'pivotal' jobs) protested at being sent back from leave to bases in France, Germany or Russia: 10,000 demonstrated in Folkestone; 8,000 in Brighton; more in front of Whitehall. The process was taking too long, and was too difficult to manage. Winston Churchill took over the planning of demobilisation, sending home first those who had arrived first. Nevertheless, by February 1920, two years after the Armistice, there were still 125,000 men left to be demobilised.

Another reconstruction issue was housing. During the War very few houses had been built, and more were needed to replace unsafe slums. Dr. Christopher Addison, Minister for Health, estimated that 800,000 new council houses were needed. The Addison Act was passed to begin the building, but was also abandoned in 1922 after only 213,800 were built. Building good housing was too expensive.

Britain had become a nation in debt. Small rises in taxes, and big spending on the war effort left the country in debt by £9,300 million. Spending on housing and benefits would have to be cut until Britain could find a new way of making money.

Why do you think were there so many problems for people after the War?

Click here for help

A - The government had done some planning for the end of the War, but not enough.

B - The war effort had taken over and public spending had been neglected for too long.

C - The plans that the government had set up were abandoned before they achieved their goals.

Go to Timeline Print text  prev 1  2  3  4  5  next 

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy