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.
The video below examines government health reforms and public health from 1875 to 1906.