National efficiency

Fears that Britain was in decline as a world power led to the idea that it had to improve its efficiency. This meant taking steps to improve the quality of the workforce:

  • the quality of the workforce needed to be improved
  • a healthy, fit and well-educated workforce was required
  • current levels of ill-health and poor diet weakened workers and lead to high absences

For Britain to maintain its reputation as the industrial powerhouse of Europe, it had to ensure its working class was fit to work.

The existing policy of laissez- faire did not seem to be working as poverty and ill-health remained widespread.