From the turn of the century, attitudes towards poverty and other social issues changed. The policy of ‘laissez faire’ did not seem to be working as poverty and ill-health remained widespread.
The Liberal government, which was elected in 1906, took a more 'collectivist' approach. The government now accepted that it should have a much larger role in helping those sections of society who could not help themselves.
- Many feared that Britain was in decline as a world power.
- If Britain was to remain a world power, it needed a strong, healthy and well-educated workforce.
Influence of Germany
- Under Bismarck, Germany had made social reforms and in the early 1900s was economically and militarily strong.
- Germany had introduced sickness insurance for its workers.
- David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill felt inspired to introduce similar reforms in Britain.
- New liberal ideas had emerged by 1900 which suggested that the government should intervene to help the poor.
- New Liberals who thought this way included Lloyd George and Churchill.
The Labour Party
- The Labour Party formed at the turn of the century.
- The Liberal Party feared that it might lose working class support to this new party, if they did not look to help the poor.