Attitudes towards the poor

The British government believed in the idea of ‘laissez faire’. This meant that it should not be involved in helping people with money or health problems.

The poor were seen by the wealthy as an unfortunate but inevitable part of society.

The belief existed that poverty was caused by laziness, drunkenness and lack of morals.

Many thought that ‘self-help’ (individuals being responsible for their own social standing and livelihood) should be promoted.

Individuals were expected to get themselves out of poverty through education and hard work.