Beveridge identified "five giants on the road to reconstruction". He stated that the easiest to attack was freedom from want. .
Analyse the changing attitudes to poverty in Britain from the poor law to the Beveridge Report. Make sure that you explain how the underlying assumptions were translated into legislation.
The Victorian attitude towards poverty was largely one of apathy, the true extent of poverty as revealed by writers such as Charles Booth and Seebohm Rowntree was a great shock and forced people to challenge the view that poverty was merely the result of individual failure and should be of no great concern.
The Victorian people held the view that there were two forms of poverty; the deserving poor, who were given help in the form of charity and the undeserving poor who were publicly humiliated and often sent to "houses of correction" (colloquially known as workhouses). The poor law, established in 1834, had served only to stigmatise and humiliate the poor who came to be treated with great disdain (almost as though they were criminals). The government, in the hope that the harsh realities of the poor law would act as a form of deterrence, adopted a policy of laissez-faire individualism. Such a policy however would not be sufficient to end the problem and it was widely acknowledged that a more interventionalist approach was needed.
On coming to power therefore in 1906, the Liberals kept their pre- election word and implemented much social reform. The first act to be passed was the Education (provision of meals) act 1906 entitling poor children to free school meals. In 1907 a school medical service was set up also.
Both of these acts indicate a radical shift in Victorian attitudes- (no longer are the poor being punished for their circumstances, rather the state is accepting responsibility and implementing positive aid). It is more the case however that they were motivated by imperial concern for military effectiveness and national efficiency after the poor standard of the Boer war recruits.