Why poverty was rediscovered in Britain in the late 1950s and early 1960

As Britain’s economy slowly grew during the post-war period, so public spending as a percentage of GNP rose, to reach approximately half in the 1970s, and within public spending, the amount spent on social welfare also rose, to reach approximately a quarter of this half in the 1970’s.The economic situation was difficult before the 1964 election so the incoming Labour Government inherited a number of problems notably a rising balance of payments deficit. It re-nationalized steel at a high cost and also expand the economy. The period 1964-1970 was characterized by a number of economic crises. Britain’s share of world trade fell from 13.9% to 10.8% during this time. Taxation increased from 32% of GDP to 43% of GDP. Economic planning had failed and this failure precluded major social planning despite the fact that some social reforms such as the launch of comprehensive education, reorganization of public transport, development in health and local government.Abel-Smith and Townsend are credited with the rediscovery of poverty in the 1960’s: noticed that certain categories such as, families with children on low incomes and retired couples often lived in difficult circumstances. The definition of poverty adopted by Abel-Smith and Peter Townsend in their 1965 study, was the concept of The Poor and the Poorest. They concluded that poverty was entirely a relative concept, and defined households to be in, or at the margins of, poverty if their income was less than 140 percent of the then current National Assistance scale plus rent. In 1960, 17.9% of households lived below this relative poverty standard. An unknown, but significantly smaller, share of the population had incomes below the physical efficiency or human needs poverty lines. (Ian Gazeley, Poverty in Britain 1900-1965)There was a strong case for saying that socially deprived families are frequently found in confined geographical areas identifiable by certain physical and social characteristics. Examples of these characteristics: geographical location, twilight zones near a city’s business area. areas populated by immigrants. overcrowded and poor amenities, Victorian housing stock. areas with a high percentage of unskilled and semi-skilled workers. higher than average proportions of families on State benefits. higher than normal percentage of large families. large number of fatherless families. areas with little play space and recreational facilities. areas with poorer health. high percentage of child deprivation and delinquency. Often these confined geographical areas had worse social services than the more attractive areas.The benefits of the Welfare State were not reaching everyone in British society. Inner cities contained some of the following problems associated with people: Poverty and income support dependency, unemployment, chronic unemployment, the unskilled and under-skilled, one-parent families, large families, the elderly, single elderly people, the sick, and the chronic sick, families in need of social services.1.Environmental factors: Poor physical environment, physical dilapidation, environmental pollution, crime, the fear of crime and social tension.2. Educational factors: Physically run-down schools, poor teaching, low levels of educational attainment.3. Service Provision: Poor or inadequate health services, poor environmental services, poor financial services like the unavailability of loans.4. Economic factors: Decayed economic infrastructure, poor and inadequate tax base and a high dependency ratio. (Treble, J. H., Urban Poverty in Britain)Thus poverty in Britain has been associated with her costly spending to transform into a Welfare State with the money from the taxes paid by its rich citizens that promises to take for her citizens. These benefits failed to reach all sections of the society thus giving rise to poverty in the late 1950s and early 1960s. (T. F. Marshall, The Role of the Social Services in Political Quarterly, vol. 40, N°1, Jan-March 1969)List of References:1. Ian Gazeley, Poverty in Britain, 1900-1965, Palgrave Macmillan (2003)2. T. F. Marshall, The Role of the Social Services in Political Quarterly, vol. 40, N°1, Jan-March 19693. Edward Palmer Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (1963), Vintage (February 12, 1966)4. Steadman-Jones, G. (1971), Outcast London, Oxford, Oxford University Press5. Treble, J. H., (1979) Urban Poverty in Britain, Batsford, London

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