The workhouse or starvation
Because of the levels of hostility to the new regimes, help
for the poor outside the workhouse system was still carried out.
After 1850 the workhouses mostly contained the "deserving
poor", plus a shifting population of vagrants and "casual
paupers" kept apart from the others. As the previous pages
show, they were given a particularly hard time, and had to carry
out stone-breaking or other tasks in payment for a bowl of gruel
and a piece of bread.
Changing attitudes towards poverty
By 1900 the harshness of the workhouse system was under attack from social reformers and charities. The poor were no longer being thought of as being always responsible for their own circumstances but seen more as victims of the economic and social conditions of the times. The extension of the vote and the election of more sympathetic MPs led to the beginning of the end of the unforgiving treatment of the poor. Todays alternative approach to social welfare was to be set in train by 1911, with the introduction of old age pensions and state benefits.
There are 5 pages on workhouses. Use the box links below to view the other pages.