Did the reforms address problems of squalor?

Most of Britain still had slum areas. Overcrowding was a serious problem that was made worse by bomb damage during the war. To deal with the problem of squalor, the government concentrated on the building of decent homes for the working class after the war. The aim was to build 200,000 houses a year. Many were prefabricated houses which were assembled quickly onsite.

New Towns Act, 1946

Details and successes

  • 12 new towns planned in order to reduce overcrowding
  • Stevenage, in Hertfordshire, was the first new town created under the Act
  • eight were intended to accommodate the overspill of population from London
  • two were set up in County Durham
  • East Kilbride and Glenrothes were set up in Scotland

The Labour government's record in this area does not compare favourably with pre-war levels of house building or with the achievements of the Conservatives in the 1950s

Limitations

  • there was still a serious shortage at the end of their period in office
  • high demand for housing still existed
  • the 1951 census revealed that there were 750,000 fewer houses than households in Britain
  • this was approximately the same level of homelessness as in 1931

Housing Act, 1949

Details and successes

  • councils could buy houses in disrepair and make improvements
  • householders could apply for assistance to make improvements

Limitations

  • poor housing and homelessness were still serious problems at the end of the Labour administration in 1951