Throughout the 19th century local government had been forced to take steps and intervene in the lives of the people in areas of public health and sanitation.
In Birmingham under Joseph Chamberlain who was Mayor of the city from 1873 to 1875, provision was made for gas and water supplies controlled by the government. They also cleared slums and introduced a city park system. These reforms were designed to better the lives of the people of Birmingham.
Public works schemes to improve living conditions and public health had been established in the late 19th century, often set up and run by Liberals. These small, local schemes raised the possibility of similar schemes being a success on a national level.