How far did the 1834 poor law amendment act achieve its aims by 1841?
The poor law of 1601 made each parish responsible for its own poor. Poor relief was paid for by a parish rate levied by the overseers of the poor. Relief under the Old Poor Law could take on of two forms indoor relief, relief in side of a workhouse, or outdoor relief, relief in a form outside of a workhouse. This could come in the form of money or food. The 1601 Poor Law could be described as 'parochial' as the administrative unit of the system was the parish. There were around 1,500 such parishes based upon the area around a parish church. This system allowed greater sensitivity towards paupers; however this system also made tyrannical behavior from Overseers possible. Overseers of the Poor would know their paupers and therefore be able to differentiate between the deserving and undeserving poor. The Elizabethan Poor Law operated at a time when the population was small enough for everyone to know everyone else, therefore people's circumstances would be known and the idle poor would be unable to claim on the parishes' poor rate.The poor law amendment act achieved its main aim which was to reduce the expenditure of poor relief.
The British economy underwent massive structural change and a reallocation of resources in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Massive fortunes were made and the national wealth was generally held to have advanced during this period, but the rewards of industrialisation were unevenly distributed. As the old rural system of poverty relief began to collapse under the weight of a growing population and pauperisation of the peasantry, it was decided that a new system was needed: one based on Victorian ideas of virtue, thrift and industry.
The framing of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act highlights in itself the misconceptions about poverty and the poverty-stricken in nineteenth century Britain. It achieved its immediate aim of reducing the poor relief rate but could...