The British Government in the 19th Century to the dawn of the 20th Century possessed a "laissez-faire" attitude towards the population, which resulted in worrying state of poverty in the country. "Laissez-faire" is the policy of non-intervention in relation to social welfare of the citizens. When the Liberal Party became government in 1906, they introduced a series of social and welfare reforms and. Although the party had undoubtedly introduced reforms for social improvement, it can be legitimately argued that they were not a party of social reform because they were driven by power retention, both domestically and internationally. In addition, their reform policies were mostly ineffective and wasted the taxpayers' money instead. This essay will first argue that, despite the philanthropic motive for the reforms, there were other elements behind the motive proving that they were more political rather than reformative. The social reform policies will be analyzed as well as their effectiveness and ineffectiveness by the end of the essay.
To begin with, social reforms occurred due to the change of public opinion on causes of poverty by 1900. A research on social conditions of people in Britain separately conducted by Charles Booth and Seebohm Rowntree established that approximately 30% of the people living in the respective research areas were experiencing poverty that was mainly caused by old age, low wages, sickness and unemployment. The research also discredited the previous assumption on poverty which was people were poor because of laziness and their own failings. The remarkable and statistical research motivated a public pressure on the government for a social reform. This would argue that, whichever government came into power at that time would have to carry out social reforms or they will lose the votes. Hence, the liberal party was not genuinely a party of social reforms.